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Equestrian project waiting on appeal

Wallace Bridge seeks easement

December 30, 2013

SHERIDAN — J.W. Millegan, the man behind the proposed Polk County equestrian center Wallace Bridge, and his supporters are awaiting a National Appeals Division (NAD) decision regarding an appeal in the battle to acquire the land for the facility.

J. Terrence Bittner, Millegan's attorney, submitted a response on Dec. 19 to the National Resource Conservation Service's request that NAD Director Roger Klurfeld reverse a Nov. 21 ruling in favor of Wallace Bridge. That ruling said the NRCS erred in denying Millegan's request to modify a conservation easement on the property, without which the facility can't be built.

Bittner addressed in particular NRCS claims that the NAD didn't have jurisdiction in the case and that Millegan did not have standing to appeal as he is not the landowner of all the property in question. He stated Millegan did have standing because the land owners had given him power of attorney.

Bittner concluded with a request that Klurfeld affirm the Nov. 21 decision and issue an order that the NRCS allow the modification to proceed.

The same day Bittner submitted the response, U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and Reps. Kurt Schrader and Suzanne Bonamici wrote a letter to Klurfeld, not to take a side, but to urge a thorough consideration of the facts and laws involved.

"We do not seek or advocate for any particular decision in this matter — by you or the NRCS generally," the letter read. "We write to ensure that the conservation easement modification is considered fairly, openly, and under the rule of law according to specific regulatory standards and considerations of due process."

Klurfeld has five business days to issue a determination.