PENDLETON - Umatilla County Commissioners approved a zoning change Thursday which will allow Clyde Nobles and neighbors to divide their property into four-acre minimum lot sizes.

The Umatilla County Planning Commission had sent the change forward with a split vote and no recommendation.

The 187.51 acres is zoned for exclusive farm use and lies within the city of Umatilla's urban growth boundary, but city officials said it was too far away to provide city sewer and water.

Part of the land lay in the Butter Creek Critical Ground Water area, but Nobles provided data showing the wells in the area did not have nitrate problems and had remained at stable levels for several years.

"One size does not fit all with the critical ground water," he said.

Jon Jennings, regional representative for the Department of Land Conservation and Development, said the department would prefer to see the land split into 10-acre lots, which would make it easier to urbanize in the future. Although the city expressed little interest in using the land in the future, as part of the urban growth boundary it should be treated as urbanizable land, he said.

Sam Nobles said his property would be worth much more if it could be split into four-acre lots.

Commissioner Dennis Doherty expressed concern that the land would continue to partition until the area was subdivided without the regulations that subdividing the land out right would incur. In the end he voted with the other commissioners to avoid a split vote.

The commissioners also continued a hearing on the wind overlay zones to allow time to review recently submitted information.

"The main issue now is how to apply the new regulations to existing projects or those currently under construction," Doherty said.

The meeting was continued to April 1.

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