Family farmer Jeff Parker of rural Enterprise was the keynote speaker when the Wallowa County Planning Commission met before an audience of 80 people concerning trophy homes Tuesday night. In an articulate fashion the first speaker from the audience said that the intent of HB 3326 was to keep family farms together and that restrictions on non farm dwellings should not be increased.
His speech was followed by applause which was followed with a warning from Planning Commission chairman Floyd Hoofard that such demonstrations would not be allowed.
The purpose of the public hearing, according to Planning Director Bill Oliver, was to discuss what conditions should be placed on non farm dwellings in relationship to HB 3326 which was adopted in the 2001-2002 legislative session.
HB 3326 allows for the partition of parcels of land of 162 acres or larger that can be partitioned into three parcels as long as one piece remains 160 acres in size. Because local government may be more restrictive than state law, the 160 acre size is according to county standards with 80 acres the state standard.
Parker challenged Oliver's Aug. 20 memorandum to the planning commission which suggested more stringent standards for Wallowa County. Though Oliver relayed how many Oregon counties are dealing with the new legislation during his staff report, Parker argued that he did not mention Crook County which, said Parker, was the first county in the state to handle an HB 3326 application. He also claimed that the Department of Land Conservation and Development said that Crook County's more lenient handling of the bill was a model for the state.
"The land use in the state has become who can manipulate the system," said Parker.
Several other individuals spoke in opposition to local controls over "trophy homes" on ridge tops.
Louis Perry, a Joseph contractor, said that restrictions of HB 3326 non farm dwellings are completely out of place. He suggested that the placing of additional restrictions on the shape, size and color of one's home puts more private land under public control.
Joseph real estate broker John Gorsline suggested in strong terms that the legislation of visual subordination standards amounts to a taking of private property rights. He stated that no government agency, including a planning commission, "should have the power to control where people build on their own property."
Joseph realtor Russ Ruonavaara stated that the building of new homes is the only way to increase the local tax base.
County assessor Gay Fregulia stated that decisions need be made according to state law and that non farm dwellings are to be the exception and difficult to obtain. She said that there are other provisions for children who wish to use the land for farm use.