A 'yes' vote could still result in months of hearings

by: KEVIN GABOURY/CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Brasada Ranch, located in the southwest corner of the county, is the only destination resort approved for building. As Crook County's largest taxpayer, it contributed over $290,000 to the county's tax base for the 2008-2009 season.

Crook County's only ballot measure before voters this spring has an interesting twist: a "yes" vote won't necessarily change anything . . . at least not right away.
   The catch: measure 7-47, drafted by Powell Butte resident Mollie Eder earlier this year, is advisory. If passed, it will be up to the county to decide whether or not to repeal the destination resort overlay map, effectively preventing any more of the resorts from being approved.
   If the county follows the advice of the citizens and takes up the policy, a somewhat lengthy process could lie ahead for the county court and planning commission.
    "The land use ordinances of the county require that prior to any land use decision being made, the planning commission be given an opportunity to weigh in with a recommendation regarding the impact of that decision," Crook County Judge Scott Cooper said.
   After land use hearings that could take a couple of months at most, the planning commission would come up with a recommendation to the county court on what action to take, if any.
    "I would imagine that we would ask them to respond to us within 60 days," Cooper said.
   The recommendation would then come back to the county court and additional public hearings would be held to decide what action to take. Cooper surmised the issue could be on the court's agenda by fall.
   "Even if this ballot measure passes, it's still a lengthy process, because of the complicated nature of land use law," Cooper said.
   Eliminating or altering the destination resort map would basically eliminate the opportunity for any new resorts to apply in the county.
   As for the three resorts already in existence and the other with a completed application, the removal of the map should not affect them, as long as they don't make any major changes to their already- approved master plans.
   "It could limit their flexibility for further development," Cooper said.
   Brasada, the only resort that has been approved for building in the county, is also the county's largest taxpayer. The other two, Remington Ranch and Hidden Canyon have approved applications, but are not yet approved for building. Crossing Trails, formerly known as Seven Peaks, is still in the planning phase.
   "Brasada alone has become over 5 percent of the tax base," Cooper said.
   For the 2007-2008 tax season, Brasada paid a total of $294,994.88 to the county alone.
   Because Remington Ranch and Hidden Canyon are still being taxed on farm deferral, their contribution to the county is minimal, Cooper mentioned. Remington Ranch paid $4,401.66 and Hidden Canyon paid $266.87 last year.
   However, when the plats for Remington Ranch are approved, which should occur in the next couple of months, their tax payments to the county alone could total $200,000.
   Crook County Planning Director Bill Zelenka feels a decision on the ballot could either amend the map or change destination resort policy altogether. Crook County already has one of the strictest destination resort ordinances in the state, he said.
   "We'll be looking at making modifications anyway, so that'll maybe affect the thrust of the hearing from doing modifications to doing something more updated," he said. "Most of our mapping has been done in accordance with the limitations that the state has put on us. Our mapping was based on the best available information at the time."
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