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home : business : business July 27, 2015

10/8/2013 12:56:00 PM
Rocky meeting engages Cyrus' plans for property
By Jim Cornelius
News Editor

A working group met Tuesday, October 1, to find consensus regarding possible legislative changes that could aid development of Cyrus family property east of Sisters. There was, however, no consensus even that people want to find consensus.

The meeting at the Sisters High School Lecture/Drama Room grew out of an agreement between Rep. John Huffman (R - The Dalles) and the governor's office in the wake of the failure of HB 3536 to gain traction in the last regular legislative session. That bill would have allowed up to 480 residential units; overnight lodging facilities such as cabins, condominiums and townhouses; recreation facilities; and a motorcoach resort facility with up to 100 spaces.

The bill called for development "in conjunction with a transfer of development opportunity" from the proposed Metolian resort in the Metolius Basin. Transfer Development Opportunities (TDOs) were established in 2009 when the legislature effectively disallowed the Camp Sherman-area development under a provision declaring the Metolius Basin an Area of Critical State Concern. The TDOs allow the developers to use their rights elsewhere under specific restrictions.

Current law would not allow the use of the TDOs in Deschutes County for the purpose envisioned in the Aspen Lakes legislation.

A strong majority of the people attending Tuesday evening's meeting want to see it stay that way.

Early on, a woman in the audience called for a show of hands of those opposed to any legislation that would allow the TDOs to be used in Deschutes County. Of the 130 or so people in the room, perhaps two-thirds to three-quarters raised their hands. Only a small handful indicated they would be in favor of a change.

That set the tone for what many observers found a strange process. After a presentation by Jon Jinings of the Department of Land Conservation and Development, facilitator Jeff Goebel broke the audience up into small groups and gave them 3x5 cards on which to write their feelings about best/worst scenarios regarding potential development.

There was considerable resistance to the whole process.

"We were told by the organizers was that the work group was to find 'consensus', as the facilitator called it, for the proposal," participant Elise Wolf told The Nugget. "This made a lot of folks there upset as they were not in support of the proposal at all, but instead in opposition. I made a statement such that it felt like we were being herded like sheep into a project that most of us don't agree with."

The Nugget contacted Representative Huffman, who was not in attendance as the legislature was still engaged in a special session. He responded to a query as to why placing the TDOs in Deschutes County - and particularly with the Cyrus family's proposed development - is a priority for him.

In an email, Huffman stated that, "During the 2013 session Rep. Brian Clem had the idea of seeing if the TDOs could be used on a portion of Cyrus property. Rep. Clem, Richard Whitman (the Governor's natural-resources advisor and along with Clem one of the authors of the 2009 Metolius legislation) have said the state has a strong interest in making the TDOs work somewhere, possibly Deschutes County. They said they were not put into the '09 bill as fluff but they had intentions of them being used somewhere in the state. Some have said that Deschutes County was never intended to be a receiving county for the TDOs. However, authors of the '09 Metolius bill says that is not true, they never intended to exclude the county."

Huffman further noted that, "Since Shane Lundgren controls the TDOs he notified the Department of Land Conservation and Development that he wished to pursue use placement of the TDOs in Deschutes County and quite possibly on a portion of the Cyrus property. Because Shane Lundgren and the Cyrus family have been constituents for over six years, and, since the Governor's office stated that they would like to put some effort into seeing if the TDOs could be used in Deschutes County and asked me to work with them through an interim workgroup to investigate possibilities, that is what has gotten us to where we are


"When a constituent asks me to work with them on a legislative project I pursue options with them until the door closes."

The working group is comprised of members of the Cyrus family, Huffman himself, representatives of several government agencies, a representative of the real estate industry, staff of a couple of environmental groups and at least one at-large citizen.

It is not a decision-making body. The group is tasked with coming up with some kind of recommendation to legislators as to whether legislation should be again brought forward to place the TDOs.

"If DLCD, the Water Resources Department, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Department of Transportation, and members of the workgroup determine that the TDOs are not a good fit from a legal, logistical, or state natural resource management position then the TDOs would not be used on the requested property," Huffman told The Nugget. "If however, Shane's request to use the TDOs on a portion of the Cyrus property, or elsewhere in Deschutes County, is found to have merit (doesn't break any laws, doesn't negatively impact state resources, and is determined to have the support infrastructure) then the process will likely move forward.

"This is narrowly focused on the state and the county applying the law and properly managing their resources. As much as constituents would like for me to pick winners and losers, I will not. We will follow the process to determine what is legal, what is doable, and what is best for Deschutes County and the State of Oregon."

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