Newport announces attempt to control lands surrounding Big Creek Reservoirs, Newport’s source of drinking water.
Newport City Councilors told Lincoln County Commissioners Wednesday night they want to eventually bring most of the lands surrounding the town’s source for drinking water within the city limits. That basically involves both Big Creek Reservoirs and the lands that drain into the lakes. Newport Community Development Director Derrick Tokos said the city has been talking with state Land Conservation and Development Commission staff about the idea but LCDC staff has been a little stand-offish on it. Tokos said they’re a little nervous since the expansion of Newport’s urban growth boundary would be quite large in order to encompass everything related to the lakes and the city’s water treatment system. To be sure, LCDC staff is always on the lookout for cities who want to gobble up more undeveloped land than they really need for sensible, affordable growth. Tokos has said in the past that developing lands around the reservoirs is the last thing the city wants to do since home and business construction in the watershed would create nothing but problems for water quality. That’s why the city wants to control ownership and zoning of the lands, to keep them natural and clean. Taking this tact, Tokos said he’s optimistic the LCDC staff will come around to the city’s viewpoint. Tokos said what the city wants from the county, is for the county to work with them, not only in broadening the town’s urban growth boundary but to turn Big Creek Road over to the city from NE Harney clear out to the eastern end, a distance of several miles.
Tokos said his office has already been working on a proposal to extend Newport’s urban growth boundary to include the reservoirs and surrounding hills. There was no mention of a firm estimate on when or under what conditions the area might be actually annexed into the city.
County Commissioners were amenable to cooperatively working with city officials on the project.