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Petitioner pitches vast, sparsely populated city of ‘Mountain View’; Deschutes County hearing set for Sept. 20

(Update: Adding video, comments from Aasen, info from the county)

'You would have the services available. You would have the higher quality of life.'

MILLICAN, Ore. (KTVZ) – Bend, Redmond, Sisters, La Pine and … Mountain View?

That’s the name of a vast new city proposed across 265 square miles, or 169,600 acres, of thinly populated Deschutes County southeast of Bend, both north and south of Highway 20, with the “ghost town” of Millican close to its center.

The proposed nearly 170,000-acre city would extend west at Diamond T Road, bordered on the east at the intersection of U.S. Highway 20 and state Highway 27.

"The proposition of Mountain View is really about providing protections for residents. Ensuring that their voices are heard in regards to the land out there" Andrew Aasen explained to us Thursday.

Aasen is a Millican Valley resident who's on the Cannabis Advisory Panel in Deschutes County. The panel guides county commissioners on how to spend marijuana tax dollars.

In February, he submitted the application to incorporate Mountain View.

"Having your lot designated as residential or rural-residential would give you the legal ability to build something that the county considers habitable and safe, and at the same time growing your economic value," Aasen said.

With an assessed value of $15 million on all property within the city's proposed boundaries, the first year's projected income from proposed property taxes is $30,000. Aasen says that'd cover the minimum operating expenses for Mountain View's incorporation.

Only about 150 people live within the proposed city limits as of the 2020 census, which includes large areas both north and south of Highway 20 and the “ghost town” of Millican.

The potential for a fire district, emergency services and a neighborhood store are among the reasons why Aasen wants to incorporate a new, definitely rural city.

"You have a heart attack, you get injured, you're waiting for the ambulance to come out here, and this would end all of that," Aasen claimed. "You would have the services available. You would have the higher quality of life."

Aasen was sued by Deschutes County in March for constructing a house out of a shipping container without proper permits.

The county ruled it wasn't safe for human occupancy, but later voluntarily dropped the lawsuit in June.

"Trying to live within nature, in more of an untraditional manner, didn't really work out. So you live and you learn" he explained.

Aasen also recently announced he's running as a non-affiliated candidate for Oregon's Fifth Congressional District seat currently occupied by first-term Rep. Lori-Chavez Deremer, R-Happy Valley.

Asked about any connection between his candidacy and the new-city pitch, Aasen said: "I would say, I should have waited to announce my candidacy until after September, when all of this is decided."

If it makes the ballot and area voters do choose to incorporate the town of Mountain View -- covering an area larger than the city of Portland -- it would be Oregon's first new city since La Pine was incorporated in 2006.

Deschutes County commissioners this week set public hearing on the petition for Sept. 20.

Notice of the hearing will be sent to all property owners within the proposed city limits, as well as those within 750 feet of the proposed boundary, service providers and agencies.

County Clerk Steve Dennison certified in April that the submitted petition sheets have more than 29 valid signatures, meeting the required 20% of registered voters in the area proposed for incorporation. The state's current rules say an area must have at least 150 residents to petition for incorporation as a city (although there are older cities in the state that are even smaller -- take Greenhorn, at just three residents in 2020, up from zero in two previous censuses).

Deschutes County Senior Long-Range Planner Nicole Mardell said commissioners are directed by state law to determine if the proposed boundary correctly include all land that would benefit from being in the proposed city, whether the proposed property tax rate ($2 per $1,000 of assessed value) will support proposed services and if the proposed city will be able to comply with state land-use planning goals, as well as county comprehensive plan goals and policies.

Mardell noted that “processing a petition to incorporate is extremely rare,” with only three new cities created in Oregon in the last 42 years – Keizer in 1982, Damascus in 2004 (but disincorporated in 2020) and La Pine in 2006.

As a result, the county’s Community Development Department doesn’t have set fees to review or process such petitions, but commissioners learned this week how the county's portion of the process could be funded.

Article Topic Follows: Government-politics

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Blake Mayfield

Blake Mayfield is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Blake here.

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Barney Lerten

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