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Task force met with resistance

Many locals would prefer land-use be handled by local and county officials
by Ty Beaver, Herald and News 9/25/08

   Bob Flowers wants to know why state officials are afraid to let local officials determine how their communities grow.
   The Klamath County farmer was one of several county residents to speak up at a public town hall meeting Tuesday night sponsored by the Big Look Task Force. The appointed group is examining the state’s land-use system before presenting recommendations to Gov. Ted Kulongoski.
   Some residents aired personal grievances and some called f o r t i g ht e r r e s t r i c t i o n s o n development, but most spoke in favor of putting land-use decisions under county and local governments instead of at the state level.
   “I personally do not trust anything from the Willamette Valley,” said resident and former planning commissioner Ron Best.
   The task force is hosting 10 town hall meetings throughout the state to hear the public’s thoughts on Oregon’s land-use system. Tuesday night’s meeting was in the community room of the Klamath County Courthouse. Four of the task force members attended, but they didn’t interact directly with those attending the meeting.
   Real estate agent Randy Shaw and others pushed the issue that there needs to be local control, and the state doesn’t need to be heavily involved in land-use decisions in communities away from Salem.
   Specific conditions
   Others criticized the system for not properly addressing specific land conditions and properties. The heavily populated areas of the state easily fit into the state’s designations of farm, forest or urban, but Eastern Oregon and the Klamath Basin do not.
   One resident said he supported control at the state level, citing he did not trust the judgment of county officials. Resident Catherine Cappel said she wanted better regulation of developments such as destination resorts.
   The message of local control was strongest, though, and didn’t surprise Glen Bolen, a consultant working with the task force. Past meetings had general themes, but also differing opinions, which gives residents a chance to discuss and come up with solutions.
   “Planning is a very passionate issue,” he said.


75 people attended Tuesday’s meeting

   More than 75 people attended Tuesday night’s meeting on the state’s land-use system, but many criticized the Big Look Task Force meeting’s format and public input survey as slanted in favor of supporting the present policy of state control of land-use decisions.
   “I think these questions represent the answers you want, not the answers you’re getting,” said resident Rob Bogatay.
   State officials and organizers said the format is intended to provide targeted suggestion for improvements rather than just having people air grievances.
   They added there are similar complaints from organizations such as 1,000 Friends of Oregon, which favors centralized land-use planning. That organization claims the task force’s efforts support localized control of land-use decisions.
   “That’s kind of a good sign,” said John Evans, Big Look project manager.
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