Oregon Coast Alliance Newsletter
Knapp Ranch Golf Course Permit Expired and Other News
Knapp Ranch Golf Course Permit Expired A Year and a Half Ago   
Elk River Valley. Area Proposed for Knapp Ranch Golf Course Lower Right Center. Courtesy ORCA
Elk River Property Development (ERPD) applied for and received a Curry County permit for the proposed golf course at Knapp Ranch north of Port Orford, on January 15, 2015.  The first of several Conditions to the permit stated, "This conditional use permit approval is valid for one (1) year unless the Applicant applies for and receives an extension of this approval."

At a September hearing on the ERPD proposal for a pipeline to carry Port Orford effluent to irrigate the as-yet unbuilt golf course, the Planning Commission noted that ERPD had  apparently  failed to apply for (and therefore receive) an extension on or before January 15, 2016. Oregon Coast Alliance verified with the County's Community Development Department that ERPD did not file a time extension as required. The golf course permit is expired, and has been invalid for a year and a half.

At the continued pipeline hearing in October, ERPD  stated  that they were not required to file an extension, despite the clear language in Condition #1. Why not? They argued they had completed "substantial construction" during that one-year period. Substantial construction in Curry County ordinances can be a stand-in for getting a time  extension. But  in this instance, the permit itself has a direct requirement for a time extension in one year. County ordinances give officials the authority to issue conditional use permits which must be periodically reviewed to ensure the conditions of the permit are being met. This is what the Planning Commission and the Board of  Commissioners did  in the January 2015 golf course permit: they required a time extension by January 15, 2016. Since ERPD failed to get the extension, the permit has expired.

If ERPD decides to reapply for a conditional use permit for the golf course, they will have to describe the entire project as it has now unfolded, including use of effluent, a pipeline, additional treatment facilities (including a large holding pond) on the Ranch, and other matters. None of these things were discussed in the original permit. Comprehensive land use review of this slowly expanding project will be required.

The Many Problems of the Mauck House
Mauck House on Sandlake Road. Courtesy Tillamook County
Benjamin Mauck built a five bedroom house on a postage stamp-size lot on Sandlake Road. It is a vacation rental. It has multiple serious problems, which appear to have been caused by laxness on Tillamook County's part. The least of the problems is that the owner built a fence into the adjacent road right of way, which is hazardous. Tillamook County, after reviewing the situation, decided that the owner must remove the fence, or else the County will do it in thirty days. The County sent a certified letter out in mid-October notifying the owner.

Much more serious are the septic problems. The house's septic permit expired in July. Tillamook County permitted a septic system that is grossly out of compliance with county and state requirements. The system is undersized for a five bedroom house, with expected flows of 525 gallons per day. If occupied by up to fifteen people as the rental application indicates, flows would reach 1,125 gallons per day. But the system's tank holds only 1,000 gallons and is certified for a four-bedroom house.

Even more suspicious, the septic system was installed and buried before the county inspection, so officials could not determine if the system includes the proper setbacks to the nearby intermittent stream which flows in a culvert and empties onto the beach  a few  feet  beyond. The  septic system  probably  encroaches onto the public beach right-of-way and adjacent property owners, and  also passes directly over  and adjacent to the stream. Most flagrantly of all, the county issued a Certificate of Occupancy before determining whether the septic system was satisfactorily completed. The house has been, and continues to be, occupied as a short term rental.

The county recently sent a letter to the owner detailing these problems and requesting collaboration to resolve the problems.  Since it was not sent certified mail, the county is clearly hoping to resolve these serious public health hazard problems by collaboration with the owner. The history of the house construction does not lead ORCA to optimism on that score, but perhaps it will work. ORCA will continue to insist on the necessary re-siting of the septic system, currently poised in a location likely to cause serious contamination at a popular recreation site. We  filed a complaint with the Department of Environmental Quality about the Mauck house, the ongoing violations and Tillamook County's poor handling of the permitting and oversight. The situation is ongoing.

Clatsop County and Public Review of Land Use Applications
Arch Cape in Winter. Courtesy ORCA 
Since Clatsop County eliminated the Southwest Coastal Citizens Advisory Committee (SWCCAC), a problem has arisen that concerned residents in the  Arch Cape-Cove Beach  area never had before:  Clatsop County began approving major construction projects without any public notification, nor requiring changes to meet community zoning standards. Now  Arch Cape has no means of identifying or reviewing these applications, since the County dissolved the Committee that provided exactly this kind of local review. 

Queried about this problem,  the County replied that these projects, such as building an entire house or accessory structure, are now considered "Type I" applications.   Type I projects  by definition are supposed to have no elements that would  require  discretionary judgment; they theoretically consist only of applying black-and-white standards. Thus, the county is able to approve applications with no public notification or review at all. Neighbors receive no notice of  a house being constructed right  next door to their home, as happened recently in Arch Cape.  Local residents have been working with the County to set up a pathway to provide community notification of these larger construction projects, or to reclassify them as Type II applications, which do require public notice and opportunity to comment. There seem to be discretionary aspects to the approval process that make the changes necessary for compliance with community zoning standards.  Negotiation between residents, ORCA and the County are ongoing.

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