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‘Land use junkie’ on gorge commission

— Dan Ericksen, a “land use junkie,” orchardist and former Wasco County commissioner and judge, sought county-level appointments to the commission twice before winning a governor’s appointment.

Ericksen replaced Sara Grigsby. He said his beliefs are such that he can draw ire both from conservation and property rights camps. He said he has a “good working knowledge” of issues facing orchardists, including restrictions on colors for buildings, and a close understanding of the key issues facing The Dalles — urban boundary expansion.

“The commission needs to address criteria that are going to be used for an urban growth boundary expansion. The city of The Dalles, because of the lack of that criteria, and the need for taking positive action, went ahead with a very well thought-out and legitimate process they’ve put a lot of money into. And they have a finished product and the gorge commission is not ready to receive anything,” he said.

A recent issue for orchardists involved a gorge rule that roofs on labor housing be dark to blend in with the landscape. The county allowed a lighter roofing material to reflect heat, since the housing, occupied just two months a year, doesn’t have air conditioning. The gorge commission didn’t challenge the county’s ruling.

He said the restrictions on labor housing “makes it more expensive and less accommodating for employees, which is contrary to what the act calls for.”

He added, “What we need to do is have a gorge commission meeting inside one of those labor houses in July,” to get a sense of the heat a dark roof would further compound.

He said the scenic area act came into being because people thought, “here’s something special, we really ought to cordon this off and leave it as a special place, but within there, is an already developed special place and we need to be able to accommodate those people that live here and the economies that are trying to survive,” he said.

He noted, “We can’t have no-development-whatsoever attitude and we can’t have a ‘development is the most important thing’ attitude. They can be accommodated and we have to find out ways to make that happen.”

“I kind of consider myself pretty much down the middle, and I’m hoping I can fill that role on the commission,” Ericksen said.

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