It's not clear what the legal effect of Crook County's overwhelming vote against destination resorts will be, but it might make public officials all over Central Oregon want to hesitate before throwing open the gates for more of them.
In Tuesday's election, Crook County voters approved by an almost 2-to-1 ratio a non-binding measure that calls on the county to block any new destination resorts by repealing the "overlay map" that shows where they can be sited. Even if the county took that step - which looks doubtful - it wouldn't affect the three resorts already approved in the Powell Butte area or a fourth, Crossing Trails, that is now in the planning process.
But the political implications could be major.
"It's not that it passed that's important, but by how much it passed," said Erik Kancler, executive director of Central Oregon LandWatch. "This passed by 2-1 countywide - that's a pretty big deal and suggests to me that this is a voting issue (and not just a Powell Butte issue) that ought to force the court to sit up and take notice. 'Cause if they don't this issue is going to escalate even further and may bite them in the butt next time they're up for election."
Kancler suggested that short of repealing the overlay map outright, the Crook County Court might decide to remove lands that are within three miles of high value farmland and "at the same time take a very limited approach to allowing new lands to come in under the remapping process that's already begun."