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The Observer Paper 11/26/14

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Home arrow Opinion arrow Our View arrow Planners can show more flexibility


Planners can show more flexibility

Planners can show

more flexibility

A recent state law change should be bringing greater flexibility to land-use planning decisions.

That flexibility, however, was missing Tuesday when the Wallowa County Planning Commission turned down Lostine farmer Arnildo Uppiano's request to split off two five-acre parcels on his land for residences.

Uppiano, 73, had asked the commission to allow him to partition two parcels, one for a personal residence and another that he could sell to pay off some medical bills and ease his retirement.

For years in Oregon it was not possible to subdivide land that was zoned for exclusive farm use. State law was amended to allow up to two small unproductive parcels to be developed for non-farm dwellings if a parcel of at least 160 acres remains.

Uppiano seemed to meet the requirements quite well. His land a mile from Lostine is 229 acres. The five acres he intended to sell has been idle for several years. No trees are growing there.

A planning staff report said that the soil would not support grass or grain crops. A letter from the Oregon Forestry Department also concluded the soil was not real productive, yet the parcel could be capable of producing a commercial forest product.

Because of that potential for trees, the planning commission allowed Uppiano to partition only one instead of two parcels for non-farm dwellings.

What harm would have been done if the farmer had been allowed two parcels for homes? We're not talking about a city suddenly popping out of Wallowa County farmland. We're only looking at two houses on 10 acres.

The landowner's request was reasonable. It should have been honored by the planning commission.

Patience needed

The spring highway construction season is upon us. And the Oregon Department of Transportation projects on our local Interstate 84 and state highways can lead to frustration.

Motorists may be asked to slow down or stop while a lane is being paved. Some freeway onramps, including the one leading to the Interstate 84 westbound lanes in northwest La Grande, will be closed for a time.

Area residents must remember that our freeway and highways provide a vital link for Northeast Oregon to and from other parts of the state. Traffic delays and ramp closures are annoying. But so would be a poor highway system, replete with potholes or weak bridges.

Let's all be patient as these important road improvement projects proceed this spring and summer.


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