PENDLETON - The Umatilla County Planning Commission will consider granting a zoning variance Thursday to the Stahl Hutterian Brethren.

The variance would allow the group to build a community on about 50 acres of the 8,854 acres they purchased last fall. The exception is necessary because the land on Despain Gulch Road near Stanfield, previously known as the Mikami Farm, is considered by the state to be high-quality farmland.

Hutterians are a religious group that focus on communal living and farming. The history provided to the county shows the Hutterians split from the Catholic Church in the early 1500s, at the same time as the Mennonites and Swiss Brethren, and emphasized similar beliefs in non-violence and simple lifestyles.

Unlike Mennonites, the Hutterians incorporate modern farming practices and machinery into their lifestyle.

The community will be the first of its kind in Oregon, although information provided by the group to the county show there are Hutterian communities throughout Europe, Canada and the United States. The community moving to Umatilla County is part of a group from Ritzville, Wash.

The commission will also consider a request to subdivide property owned by Kathy Mehrry approximately two miles west of the city of Umatilla.

Additionally, the Planning Commission will continue a hearing on Wind Resource Overlay Zones postponed from Oct. 24.

The commission will meet 7 p.m., Thursday Nov. 21, at the Umatilla County Justice Center Media Room, 4700 Northwest Place, Pendleton.

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