April 20, 2001 11:00 pm

By The Observer

A small piece of property, with assessed value of less than $25,000, has initiated Union County action to amend the countys comprehensive land-use plan.

The amendment will address a technicality, but one that could affect an exchange of property between developer Mark Hemstreet and the U.S. Forest Service.

Hemstreet owns about 46 acres near Hawkins Pass in the Eagle Cap Wilderness. The property, assessed at $22,900, lies in Union County near the border with Wallowa County. According to county planner Hanley Jenkins, Hemstreet would like to have the property rezoned for a dwelling. The land is now zoned for farm and forestry use.

The existing land-use plan states that there are no land-use conflicts and that there will be no land-use conflicts with the wilderness.

That is in error, Jenkins said.

The proposed amendment will say that any conflicts between private property and the wilderness will be mitigated in favor of the wilderness. After the amendment is approved by the county commissioners, Hemstreet will be permitted to apply for an administrative use to allow a dwelling on the land.

To qualify for a building in the forestry zone, the landowner must own a minimum of 240 acres at the site or at least 320 forested acres in another location somewhere within the county or the adjoining county. Hemstreet owns considerable acreage in Wallowa County.

Jenkins said that Hemstreet would like to exchange the 46 acres on Hawkins Pass for some of his land in Wallowa County. When the exchange is complete, the Forest Service will own the 46 acres.

The county planning commission will make the final decision on the administrative use, but that decision may be appealed to the county commissioners.

The planning commission will begin the process of approving the plan amendment during its meeting at 7 p.m. Monday in the countys Chaplin Building.

When contacted, a U.S. Forest Service spokesman said his agency would have no comment now.