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Maybe we should leave the Ochoco Creek beaver alone; County court should deny hemp oil plant permit

Maybe we should leave the Ochoco Creek beaver alone

Regarding our new (?) resident beaver in Ochoco Creek: such a welcome. Is the activity illegal? Granted, building without a permit. (He'd chew the pencil.)

Perhaps team rivalry? To even the score, there are also families of Ducks active in the creek.

In areas of serious watershed erosion, beavers have been instrumental in restoring habitats and healthy waterways, to the benefit of landowners and animals.

Where is the outcry (and night surveillance) for trash dumping, defacement or drug activity along the creek? Next to that, perhaps the beaver project could be reclassified as public service — tree trimming during budget cuts. And yes, relocation. Hmm, need some pruning and thinning before fire season?

Martha Molina

Prineville

County court should deny hemp oil plant permit

Crook County promotes actions and activities to improve the quality of life for its residents. Encouragement of employment, protection of the environment, respect for the past and thoughtful steps to ensure a quality future are inherent elements of local political plans and decisions. And so is fairness.

Fairness is taking a beating. It is an unintended consequence of promoting the hemp business in Crook County. The planning committee approved a permit to process industrial hemp that will be imported to an exclusive farm property in Powell Butte from all over the state. Multiple reasons that the permit should have been denied received scant attention because, according to the county, processing is just an extension of a farm activity.

And therein lies the crux of the matter — not acknowledging the difference between farming and year-round industrial processing. If processing involves large volumes of hazardous chemicals, mechanical noise and dust, generation of waste products and significant increases in heavy truck traffic on narrow country roads, the feedstock is irrelevant. Would a shoe factory be OK because leather comes from cows? How about a rendering plant in your neighborhood?

Who benefits from operating ongoing industrial processes on a farm? Only the permit holder. Neighbors would see no benefit but would suffer the harsh livability insults. However, because adequate industrial space and infrastructure is easily accessible in Prineville, the operators could employ two or three shifts of local workers and that would benefit the county and city — no commuting required. The trucks could avoid Cornett Loop's narrow bridges and sharp curves and maintain easy access to state highways.

The court can deny the permit on May 20. Personal safety and property values of the approximately 46 residences accessed only from Cornett Loop would be preserved. The elected commissioners will display their integrity to all.

Steve and Bev Oberg

Powell Butte

County should respect residents during appeal

The Crook County Planning Committee has a tough job. It often has insufficient time to review permit applications, the office lacks in-house expertise on critical topics, and it seems burdened by tunnel vision.

Approval of a year-round ethanol extraction plant for industrial hemp on Powell Butte's exclusive farm use property has taught Cornett Loop neighbors some lessons about the county's strategy to discourage public challenges. Consider the appeal process.

Appellants (the neighbors) must pay a handsome fee to file an appeal. Then they must pay for the county to transcribe the planning committee's own tape recordings. Then they must pay for employee time and copy costs for document requests. Then they must pay for an attorney to represent the impacted community's grievance with the permit process. What does the county pay? Nothing. Nothing, because we the tax payers support the planning office and their full-time attorney plus a Deschutes County Super Lawyer whose job it is to deny the will of the most affected Crook County residents.

What does the absentee applicant and his wealthy investors pay? Nothing. That's because the county is completely representing the applicant's wishes. In popular political parlance, one could say that the county's process is rigged — and rigged to the detriment of its own citizens.

If the virus issue has any good sides, one may be that the delays in the appeal process have given the County Court extra time to seriously review the extraction permit approval. Commissioners now know that no jobs would be lost by siting the proposed operation in Prineville's industrial zone where safety and adequate infrastructure can be assured.

On Wednesday, May 20, will the County Court deny the permit and display its leadership and respect for residents' efforts to protect desirable livability standards and property values in farm country?

Cheryl Ehnisz

Powell Butte


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