September 22, 2009

Oregon’s Klamath Tribes seek land near Portland for development

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Oregon’s Klamath Tribes have resurrected a plan to procure nearly 400 acres of prime real estate off Interstate 5 near Portland for commercial development, potentially becoming one of the first tribes in years to take off-reservation land into trusts, writes Dana Tims of the Oregonian.

The tribes’ proposal has gathered fury from various land-use groups, and even from other state tribes. The Klamath tribes are traditionally from southern Oregon. Critics say the distance of the tribes’ reservation from the Wilsonville land near Portland makes their bid something of a stretch. Others worry that commercial activity in the area would ignite development up and down the I-5 corridor. While Clackamas County recently designated much of the area for rural purposes, the non-native brothers who own the property — and the ones behind the proposal — argue that the area is already urbanized. Said Chris Maletis, one of the brothers:

Currently, we do not have large parcels of employment land that are strategically located to accommodate future growth. This is and always has been a piece of property that meets the region’s needs for significant employment lands.

Language in the tribes’ restoration act, which differs from many other Oregon tribes, make the probability of the them receiving the land higher. But expect a lengthy fight across many jurisdictions on this one. Once in trust, Oregon land use laws — which aim to closely monitor and plan urban growth and development boundaries — would no longer apply to the land.

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