The Letter to the Editor authored by Rodney and Linda Botts (July 23, 2019) corrected several factual inaccuracies in Mr. Tool’s article concerning Mr. McKee’s aborted conditional use permit application to build a campground on Timber Grazing zoned land. Not mentioned was that 24 county residents showed up for the May 28 Wallowa County Planning Commission meeting scheduled to hear Mr. McKee’s proposal. This robust turnout, along with over 50 letters of opposition noted by Botts, sends a clear message that encroachment of non-agricultural commercial interests into agricultural lands are unwelcome and will meet stiff headwinds. Protection against such encroachment is rooted in the stated goals and policies of the county’s Comprehensive Plan that aims “to preserve and maintain agricultural lands” and “preserve the scenic attractiveness and living conditions desirable to farm families and other county residents.” The commitment of our county Commissioners to realizing these objectives is codified in Article 16 of the county’s land use Ordinance, stating that “The intention of the Timber Grazing Zone is to guarantee the preservation of the areas so classified for farm and forest use free from conflicting non-farm, non-forest use.” Mr. McKee wisely withdrew his application for the aforementioned conditional use permit. The effort was not wasted because valuable lessons were learned along the way. First, threats to develop agricultural land for non-agricultural commercial interests are very real and may increase with time. Second, a coalition of residents willing to voice their concerns can effectively repel such threats.
Miles and Yun McFall