The Deschutes County planning commission held a public hearing Wednesday for a rural property proposal as a land use battle kicks off over the area.
Billy Buchanan raises cattle on his farm next to the property being considered for development in the area of northwest Redmond and Terrebonne.
The land is zone four: exclusive farm use.
The Peaks 360, the developers who want to build on the land, say it isn’t suited for farming.
“The property taxes in 2020 alone for this property, which is not in farm deferral is over 15,000 and that doesn’t even consider any of the inputs required: bringing in feed because the land can’t support growing its own feed,” the developers said.
Buchanan has a different opinion.
“It’s great. It’s super tolerant to grazing: has a deep root system,” said Buchanan. “There’s still some green in there. This actually makes pretty good feed for the wildlife, too.”
Aside from locals wanting to keep farm land farm land, water use is also a concern. All of the wells and homes nearby run on wells according to a homeowner in the area.
“We’ve had at least three wells in this area that have gone dry and had to be re-drilled in the past three years,” said resident Tim Phillips. “So now we’re talking about adding at least 70 new wells on this development property.”
The Peaks 360 says, “Using the full amount of exempt water that you could use it would be about 200 acres feet of water each year, and what [GSI Water Solutions, Inc.] determined was that it was unlikely to have any interference for local wells.”
Other concerns brought up were traffic with new neighbors on limited road access, and wildfire season causing hazards with more people to evacuate.
“If we have to evacuate 70 new homes on one road while we’re trying to avoid livestock, it’s going to be a huge concern,” said Buchanan.
The Deschutes County Planning Commission has not made a decision yet about approving the land use.