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City and County setting table for Apple land purchase

The two agencies have approved a 96-acre urban growth boundary expansion next to the current data center site


About one year after Apple began building its data center in Prineville, the computer giant seems poised to expand its local footprint.

Upon news that the company may want to purchase 96 acres of adjacent Crook County land to the south, the City of Prineville and Crook County have hustled to expand the city urban growth boundary (UGB) to include the parcel.

“In the past, Project Pillar (Apple) has expressed a possible future interest in this property,” said Phil Stenbeck, the County’s assistant planning director. “In the event that they would move forward with being more interested . . . we want to be in position where they could act on their request.”

So far, Apple has not made the actual purchase, however the City and County have each held hearings to move the UGB expansion along. During the past month, the two agencies have met in a joint session and public hearing, and have held subsequent second readings and public hearings separately. The expansion took effect after the county commissioners approved it on Wednesday.

Now, in the event that Apple purchases the land in question, they will only have to wait out the escrow process, which Stenbeck said could take 45 to 60 days, and not the approximately 90-day land-use process.

“We’re trying to get ahead of the game and not behind it,” Stenbeck explained. “Oftentimes, when you are working with a business in the here and now, they typically want a quick response.”

Since Apple has not purchased the land yet — and could choose not to — another company could conceivably buy the property. However, that possibility seems unlikely since another business would have to take additional steps to utilize the parcel.

“It really suits them (Apple) because there is no access to it (other than through the Apple property,” explained Josh Smith, the City’s senior planner. “There is no road that goes out there. There is no right-of-way.”

Consequently, another business would have to spend substantially more money than Apple to develop the land for use.

Currently, Apple owns 160 acres of local land. On that parcel they have already built a 10,000 square-foot modular, which is now operational, and continue to work on a 300,000 square-foot main facility.

For now, the 96-acre property remains under County jurisdiction, Stenbeck said, but if Apple buys the land, they will have to clear some additional hurdles before they can build on the land.

“Eventually, they will annex (the property into the city),” Smith said, “and when they go to build, they will have to do a whole new site plan or master plan, however they want to do it.”

Attempts to reach Apple for comment were unsuccessful.



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