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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow Home sites on moraine denied

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Home sites on moraine denied

Two home sites proposed on crest of moraine 

ENTERPRISE — A proposal to develop three home sites on Wallowa Lake’s east moraine has been held up by the Wallowa County Planning Department.

A long time discourse on how to develop the 1,700-acre property for buildable home sites has been through circuit court and is now in the hands of the county planning department.

“A court order said the owners get to choose the parcel they want to build on and we get to regulate and not deny the choice,” said Wallowa County Planning Director Harold Black.

Two home sites, Black said, are proposed for the crest of the moraine and the third is south in the timbered area and would be allowed, pending a public hearing review.

Black said a map of proposed parcels came with the applications and the circuit court order gave the county the right to determine which are discrete parcels and which are not. 

“The county has made that determination by not recognizing three discrete (separate) parcels in order to protect Goal 5 of the county’s land-use plan,” he said. “All the other parcels proposed were recognized.”

The land use plan’s Goal 5 states that it is “to conserve open space and protect natural and scenic resources.” Specifically to the moraine it says, “all Wallowa Lake Basin Moraines be preserved as scientific natural areas, significant to the county, state and nation.” It goes on to say, “Provisions for recognition be made at such times as sites of historical significance are developed or redeveloped,” and “developments which could alter or detract from the scenic views and sites as identified be publicly reviewed for compatibility.”

Rahn Hostetter, attorney for the Yanke family, said he disagrees with the findings.

“The Wallowa County director is attempting to undo the decisions of the Department of Land Conservation and Development and the Wallowa County Circuit Court made two years ago, at which time the county had an opportunity to comment,” Hostetter said. “The Yanke’s are entitled to three Measure 49 residences and it’s too late to say otherwise. What the director is actually saying is the Yankes can have their three parcels, but not in their chosen locations. The Yankes are saying the circuit court ruled that they can choose any distinct parcel to build on.”

The Nez Perce Tribe came out against the proposals in a letter signed by Chairman Silas Whitman. 

In the letter Whitman said, “The Tribe has a particular, extraordinary interest in the health of the Wallowa River watershed, which included Wallowa Lake.”

Whitman’s letter said the county needs to have Goal 5 in mind to ensure protection of all affected Goal 5 resources when accepting applications for dwelling locations or any compatibility review that would have been required on the applicant’s June 11, 1991 acquisition date.

The Yanke Family has until March 5 to file an appeal of the planning director’s Feb. 19 findings. 

Contact Katy Nesbitt at 541-786-4235 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Katy on Twitter @lgoNesbitt.

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