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Bill to aid industrial development in Eastern Oregon gains traction

SALEM — A proposal to allow industrial development outside cities in 10 Eastern Oregon counties has passed a key legislative committee without encountering opposition from farm and conservation advocates.

Senate Bill 2 would allow each of the counties — Baker, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Lake, Malheur, Sherman, Union, Wallowa and Wheeler — to designate up to 10 sites totaling 50 acres outside urban growth boundaries for “industrial uses or other employment uses.”

Each designation would based on an economic opportunity analysis and the development could not occur on high-value farmland or sage grouse habitat.

The Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources recommended the bill for approval 3-1 during a Feb. 12 work session.

“It’s totally local control. If the local people don’t want it, they don’t have to do it,” said Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena, during . . .