Commissioners discuss updates to indoor mask order and adopt Resolution of Necessity

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

During today’s Board meeting, the Benton County Board of Commissioners discussed options to amend the County’s current indoor mask order. The Board agreed to remain in alignment with the Oregon Health Authority’s decision to lift the indoor mask mandate effective at midnight, March 12, 2022. The Board also agreed to include a recommendation in a new order that encourages vulnerable individuals to continue to wear masks in indoor spaces. The Board’s goal is to encourage each person to make a personal "choice" whether to wear a mask or not, and to ensure all individual choices are fully supported. The Board is scheduled to review and consider adoption of the new order during their next meeting on Tuesday, March 8, 2022.

Board of Commissioner meeting materials are available online at: https://bit.ly/BentonCoGov-2022BoardMeetings.

Following the mask mandate discussion, the Board adopted Resolution of Necessity R2022-001. The resolution allows the Board to declare it necessary and in the best interest of the public to acquire the McFadden Ranch, LLC, site adjacent to Hewlett-Packard in north Corvallis, for the purpose of locating justice system facilities. The Board agreed that this is the best possible location after a 20-month process to determine a site that provides the greatest public benefit and causes the least private injury to residents.

This is the first official step in a lengthy process that could span 18 months or more. Neither the Board’s adoption of the Resolution of Necessity, nor proceeding with eminent domain, prevents the County from negotiating a purchase of the property with the owner. The County sincerely hopes to negotiate an amicable agreement with the owner prior to a jury decision, and views the opportunity for ongoing negotiation as an advantage of the eminent domain process.

At the same time, eminent domain affords the County the opportunity to access the 28-acre parcel before resolution of the eminent domain action, such that the legal process will not jeopardize the Justice System Improvement Program’s timeline dependencies. The County attempted on two occasions over several months – winter 2020-2021 and more recently September 2021-January 2022 – to negotiate a fair purchase, but was unable to come to an agreement with the property owner.

Eminent domain is a defined legal process by which governments are able to acquire private property when it is deemed necessary and in the public interest to do so. If eminent domain is ultimately used a jury will determine fair compensation the County will be required to pay McFadden Ranch, LLC, for the purchase of the 28 acres of land.