PRINEVILLE, OR -- Crook County officials hope to convince the state to reverse plans for a large parcel near Highway 126 and Millican Road, across from the Les Schwab distribution center. County Judge Seth Crawford says the Department of State Lands owns a portion, "In combination with two neighboring properties, one owned by the private sector and one owned by the county. It equals 410 light industrial acres, which is one of the largest lots across the entire state for a large manufacturing or data center, or something of those likes."
The county has been working with the agency to come up with a plan for the property. Crawford tells KBND News, "Through that process, we brought 80 acres of the Department of State Lands into the UGB. Through those discussions, the Department of State Lands said, ‘This property is best used as industrial property to bring jobs to Crook County and the rest of the state.'" But, he says the state has reversed course, "Now, they’re thinking about doing a three-year lease with a solar company."
Crawford estimates a manufacturing development could bring hundreds of jobs to the area, where a solar farm only requires two workers. He says, "The county and city and state have put transportation infrastructure in there, in the general area, to handle employees. We’ve broadened up our ability to supply water and sewer to the area. So, we’ve actually spent quite a bit of money on the assurance that this would be industrial property." He adds, "Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we shouldn’t be doing solar power. But, the property that we need to use for solar is EFU property, without services and that’s not in the UGB." Crawford points out the county is developing one of the largest solar farms in the state, not far from this parcel, just outside the UGB. "We’re just saying put them in the right place, so we don’t waste the money that we’ve put into infrastructure to bring jobs to Crook County."
The County Court sent a letter this week to the Governor, Secretary of State and Treasurer, who all serve on the State Lands Board, to ask them to reconsider. Crawford says they're also contacting legislators; he says Rep. Mike McLane (R-Powell Butte) supports the county's request. A decision could come in the next couple of weeks.
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