Oregon Coast Alliance Newsletter
Clatsop County Victory and Special Interests at the Legislature
Clatsop County Loses Again on S.W. Citizens Advisory Committee   
 
Arcadia Beach Sunset. Courtesy OPRD
  
Clatsop County Board of Commissioners has sought single-mindedly to dissolve the Southwest Costal Citizens Advisory Committee (also known as Arch Cape Design  Review for more than a year now . After their first attempt, ORCA and a group of Arch Cape residents appealed to the Land Use Board of Appeals and won. SWCCAC has been in existence for more than  thirty-five  years, an active and engaged citizen advisory group participating vigorously in the conversation about the community's future. This is exactly what the very first goal of the land use laws aims for: citizen participation. Unfortunately, Clatsop County simply turned around and dissolved the Committee again in Fall 2016. ORCA and concerned residents appealed the County's action a second time.

LUBA has just handed down its Opinion: once again Clatsop County  lost. Read  the Opinion   here

Since the beginning of this struggle, ORCA has consistently called upon Clatsop County Board of Commissioners to stop this heavy-handed effort to dissolve the Committee,   refusing each time to enter into discussions or negotiations with  local residents . It is clear that residents want to have a formal means of participating in the land use decisions that affect  Arch Cape . Clatsop County should be willing to provide that, rather than stifling local participation,  wasting taxpayer money on trying to force dissolution,  and refusing to listen to their own constituents. ORCA once again requests the County officials to stop the fighting, stop the effort to dismantle the Committee, and start collaborating with the residents on how to increase citizen participation  through the SWCCAC . Goal One of the land use laws mandates citizen participation, and Clatsop County should not be seeking ways to curb  it. The more local public participation the better for the community as a whole, its residents and visitors .



Special Interest Legislation Affecting the Coast's Land Use Protections
 
Oregon State Capitol. Courtesy M.O. Stevens 
  
Two bills that give special preference to developers on the coast are making their way through the Legislature. Both engage in so-called 'super-siting,' which is the attempt to amend land use laws to create a narrow exception to benefit a particular developer. It is bad policy to amend statutes benefiting us all merely to satisfy the whims of a special interest, but attempts to do so occur every session. 

HB 2730A  would amend the laws relating to nonfarm uses on exclusive farm use lands to allow the proposed Knapp Ranch golf course north of Port Orford in Curry County to expand or reconfigure. Golf courses are allowed on exclusive farm use (EFU) lands if certain criteria are met, but they are not allowed on high value farmland, which is more restrictively protected. The as-yet unbuilt golf course is sited on EFU land. Originally  Elk River Property Development  wanted to build on high value farmland, but were barred. Wanting future flexibility, ERPD sought the aid of Curry County's new Representative, Rep. David Brock  Smith, for a  super-siting bill. HB  2730A  has passed out of committee and will be voted on in the House shortly. ORCA opposes the bill as bad policy, and also unnecessary, as ERPD already has Curry County approval for the golf course. There's no need to expand onto high value farmland as well.

HB 2031A  allows the developer of a resort originally slated for the Metolius basin to extend his deadline for siting it elsewhere.  Clatsop County is one of the named counties where the resort may be sited . A similar bill passed in 2015. This  new  bill  also allows  the developer to get five more years on his deadline if he notifies the Department of Land Conservation and Development of his election to apply for the resort within thirty days of the bill's passage. More ominously,  HB 2031A removes the prohibition for siting a resort on lands protected as Coastal Shorelands in the County Comprehensive Plan,  and replaces it with a prohibition on building in Goal 18 Beaches and Dunes areas. It also removes a prohibition on siting the resort in natural hazard areas identified in the  Comprehensive Plan . Clearly, the developer is seeking a Clatsop County site for the resort, as none of the other potential counties are anywhere near the coast. ORCA opposes this  bill. There  is no empty space available for a resort in the County's highly sought after and  ecologically valuable  coastal region. HB 2031A just passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday, April 26th.



Floras Lake Dam Update: The Fight Continues  
    
Illegal Curry County Dam at Floras Lake, July 2016. Courtesy WRD      
  
Curry County has continued its fight over the illegal dam it built across the outlet at Floras lake in July 2016. The Department of State Lands levied a $6,000 fine against the County for failing to follow the removal-fill laws. The County requested a contested case hearing, which is  now  scheduled for August 14-16. The County is also suing DSL in Curry County Circuit Court, and that has been scheduled for October 4th. 

If Curry County wants a dam at this location, they must have a water storage permit from the Water Resources Department. They appear to be working on an application. However, that will automatically trigger the fish passage requirements of Oregon law. The County has resisted obeying the fish passage laws because of the added expense of building a dam that meets the requirements. And let's not forget that there  are federal  fish passage  laws, regulated by NOAA Fisheries, which the County must comply with also .

If the County decides to pursue a dam at Floras Lake, who will pay for the upgrade , since it will require fish passage? Rep. David Brock Smith and Senators Roblan and Kruse introduced an outrageous bill in the Legislature (HB 2984) to appropriate $250,000 to Curry County via the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board to fund rebuilding the illegal structure. Having failed to meet the legislative deadline for a hearing, this bill is dead. The benefited landowners who want higher summer lake levels are the most obvious choice to pay for  a  dam,  but Curry County does not yet appear to have solved the problem of covering the construction costs.



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