The controversial 60-acre Elk-Trout Estates property just south of Joseph and north of the old Chief Joseph monument property at the foot of Wallowa Lake is currently being eyed for possible purchase by the U.S. Parks Service.
Negotiations have been sporadic, but ongoing over the past two years, said attorney Rahn Hostetter this week.
Hostetter is employed by Steve and Paula Krieger, who own the 60 acres. He accompanied Paula Krieger to the Joseph City Council meeting Jan. 7. Hostetter asked the council to send a letter to U.S. Parks Service appraiser Tray Knipe confirming that "property within an urban growth boundary of the city is destined to become part of the city, and that once property is part of the city, the city provides water and sewer to such property."
Councilor Pam Latta stated that "the city's Land Use Plan is very clear" and that a letter need not be sent to confirm the obvious.
Discussion continued and the council voted to send the letter if the city's legal counsel was in agreement.
Hostetter said by phone Monday that he wanted the letter sent "because land use law in Oregon is pretty complex." Knipe is from Idaho.
According to the local attorney, "We are looking forward to the federal government's appraisal confirmation by the end of the month."
The minutes noted that if the appraisal "works out" that the Kriegers are leaning toward working with the Parks Service instead of applying to the county for development purposes.
In 2000 the Kreigers proposed to develop a 111-unit condominum and convention center on the property, and applied to have their property annexed into the city. They were turned down by the Joseph City Council in February of 2001, and subsequently withdrew the annexation request. The property, historically owned by the Marr family for many years, has been the object of numerous development proposals in the past two-plus decades, but none has been carried out.
Ten years ago the boundaries of the Nez Perce National Historic Park, which is under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Park Serivce, were allowed to expand by congressional action to include sites outside Idaho. Among sites authorized in the expansion was the historic old Chief Joseph monument site. The need for buffer between the historic park site and development on the adjacent property has been a frequent issue at public hearings involving development proposals.