Bowing to pressure from local cities, a divided Jackson County Commission Wednesday approved a scaled-down version of a controversial rural zoning.

Bowing to pressure from local cities, a divided Jackson County Commission Wednesday approved a scaled-down version of a controversial rural zoning.

Commissioners C.W. Smith and Dave Gilmour supported a rural-use zoning that would allow development on 20-acre minimun parcels if the landowner can prove the property had been zoned incorrectly.

The 20-acre minimum is supported by the cities of Ashland, Medford and Talent and is also recommended by the county Planning Commission and planning staff.

A 10-acre minimum approved by commissioners in 2006 got shot down by Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals and the Oregon Court of Appeals after an appeal was filed by the city of Ashland.

Smith, who originally voted for the 10-acre minimum, said he changed his mind in an effort to at least get some form of the rural-use zoning on the books.

"We're not going to get forward motion," he said. "I don't want to see any more appeals. A half loaf is better than none."Commissioner Jack Walker, who said he has spent seven years championing the new zoning, said he didn't understand why the 10-acre minimum idea was being dropped.

He said the appeal was based on a procedural infraction on the part of the county, not on the acreage size. "I don't know why it was even eliminated," he said. "It should still be allowed. It makes sense to do so."

— Damian Mann