The Wallowa County Planning Commission deadlocked last week on whether to allow a landowner near Joseph to partition his land into two non-farm residential dwellings.

Initially, the planners were stuck at a 3-1 vote with three of them leaning against granting David Hockett a partition requesting permission to partition 282 acres near Daggett Road north of Joseph, according to Wallowa County Planning Director Lance Bailey. But, according to bylaws, the planners needed four votes for any decision to be definitive, he said. With only five members on the commission, one absent, and two unfilled vacancies, the planners decided to table the application until their April 24 meeting.

Hockett's application seeks under Oregon House Bill 3326 to partition 282 acres that is zoned Exclusive Farm Use (EFU) but is said to be unworkable agriculturally. Hockett was seeking two conditional use permits and one partition to create two non-farm parcels of about 60 acres each and dwellings in the EFU zone. Under H.B. 3326 landowners can partition their EFU land and create residential dwellings if it can be demonstrated that the land is not suitable for agricultural uses.

The commissioners deadlocked on whether the Hockett land met the criteria as unsuitable for ag uses, Bailey said.

Current members of the commission are Chairwoman Erin Melville, Chris Geyer, Ken Wick, Gene Kozowski and Benjamin Curry, who was absent from the March 27 meeting.

In other agenda items, the planners unanimously approved a home-based business for Jeraldine Qualle to form a bed and breakfast at 61647 Lime Quarry Road outside of Enterprise. The B&B will provide weekend accommodations for up to two guests during summer months.

In another agenda item, the planners approved the findings of facts for a proposed rezone of 36.3 acres of EFU ground to R-1 by landowners Brian and Cristin Ricker.

The land is located north near Frontage Road off Highway 82 just outside of the Enterprise Urban Growth Area.

The findings stated: "The conversion of 36.3 acres of EFU ground to R-1 will not likely create undue interference with accepted farming practices in the area due to the isolation of the parcel."

The rezone application will next go before the Wallowa County Board of Commissioners for their consideration. They will hold a hearing on the matter April 16 at 10 a.m. at the courthouse.

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