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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow Couple’s plan to develop bed and breakfast along ‘wolf highway’ meets resistance

Couple’s plan to develop bed and breakfast along ‘wolf highway’ meets resistance

The Wallowa County Planning Commissioners voted three to three, with one abstention, Tuesday night in the matter of a bed and breakfast proposed for Daggett Lane, four miles east of Joseph. Instead of re-addressing the issue at the November meeting, the planning commission voted unanimously to pass the decision on to the Wallowa County Board of Commissioners. Diana and James Hunter applied for a conditional use permit to develop a bed and breakfast on their 16 acres of exclusive farm-use property outside of Joseph. In 2007 the Hunters bought the land, which had been split off as a non-farm partition by the previous owner.

The Hunters have a cabin that accommodates two people already on the property. Their intent is to build a barn with one more accommodation for a total capacity of four guests at any one time. They also intend to build a two-bedroom home for themselves where they would serve breakfast to their guests, but would not accommodate guests in their home.

Under Oregon House Bill 3326, land deemed unsuitable for agriculture can be partitioned and sold for home sites. Building one dwelling for occupancy and having a home-based business is within the law, but many neighbors testified in objection to the project.

Many of the objections had to do with the Hunters’ involvement with environmentalists interested in the Wallowa County wolves. Lori Schaafsma of Joseph exhibited print-outs from the Oregon Wild website that detailed a tour last summer. The wolf tour participants camped on the Hunters’ Daggett Lane property and fears arose that guests would come there to call in or attract wolves to the area. The property is along what is known as the “wolf highway” that runs from the national forest, across the Imnaha Highway and through ranchland to the Zumwalt Prairie.

Diana Hunter testified that their intent is to provide lodging for no more than four people at a time; there would be no camping and no hosting of tour groups. She also said that she would not condone nor encourage calling in wolves.

Wallowa County rancher Todd Nash objected to the proposal because the Hunters have hosted members of Oregon Wild at the Daggett Lane property and their current business on Alder Slope outside of Enterprise, Barking Mad Bed and Breakfast.

“I don’t have a problem with people trying to make money,” Nash said, “but Oregon Wild has spent a considerable amount of time at Diana’s on Alder Slope and they are suing Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife; two other ranchers and I are filing as interveners along with Oregon Cattlemen in the suit.”

Though many who testified against the bed and breakfast based their concerns on beliefs that the Hunters are friendly with environmentalists, Jill McFall objected to the number of structures proposed, two cabins and one permanent dwelling. Neighbor Nancy Nobles said she is a “close” neighbor to the Hunters’ property and was told that the Hunters had no intention of moving their bed and breakfast business to that property. Nobles was also concerned about lights from the Hunters shining onto her property.

“A bed and breakfast is not compatible with agriculture because of the visual impact, water and traffic noise,” Nobles said.

Linda Botts said that four years ago when the property was partitioned, she had concerns about the impact on the farm and ranch land of the area. She said a year ago she asked Diana if she intended to move her bed and breakfast business to the property. Botts said she believes that a bed and breakfast is not compatible with farming and ranching.

Neighbor Denny Johnson said he was concerned about preserving the agricultural economic base of the county. He said according to an Oregon State University economic analysis, agriculture is the largest business in the county.

“In a bad year agriculture brings in $41 million; in a good year it can bring in from $50 to $60 million,” Johnson said.

Hunter said in her rebuttal that a lot of “what ifs” had been presented and not hard evidence.

“We bought non-arable land no one wanted and want to expand our business. This is about our property rights,” Hunter said.

During the commissioners’ discussion it was brought up that when the application was submitted to partition the 16-acre parcel. The planning commission denied the application. The issue was appealed to the county board of commissioners who then approved it. Now the planning commission will once again ask the county commissioners to make a decision. Planning director Harold Black said he would request that the matter be put on the commissioners’ agenda at their earliest convenience.

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