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Malheur County land use bill pushed by border board draws controversy

Gov. Kate Brown chats with Shawna Peterson, chair of the Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Board, during a visit to Ontario. A land use bill pushed by the border board is being debated in the state Capitol. (The Enterprise/Pat Caldwell)

VALE – Supporters of a proposed bill to open inferior agriculture acreage to residential development in Malheur County say the plan will help the local economy. 

The proposed law – House Bill 2456 – is considered the cornerstone of the legislative effort by the Eastern Oregon Border Economic Development Board, a seven-member committee of local people. 

The board is intended to spark job growth and economic development along the border with Idaho in Malheur County. 

The bill contains several safeguards, including new amendments, to protect high-value farmland, said Shawna Peterson, chair of the border board . . .