Oregon Coast Alliance Newsletter

 Ill-Advised Approvals and a Hearing

Roberts House in Cannon Beach: City Council Hearing May 11

Florence City Council Approves the Benedick Annexation

Bandon City Council Approves Bandon Beach Hotel
Roberts House in Cannon Beach: City Council Hearing May 11
Roberts House, as Rendered by Applicant. October 2020. Courtesy City of Cannon Beach
The Roberts house proposal in Cannon Beach is entering another phase. The Roberts want to build a large house just off Hemlock Drive, at the dangerous S-curve. Their first effort to gain city approval for the house by ignoring the oceanfront setback requirements, failed. The Roberts appealed this denial to LUBA. 

Meantime, they applied to the city for a variance from the oceanfront setback, in a second attempt to gain approval for the house. The planning commission already denied the proposed variance, recognizing that the Roberts are not (as they claim) being treated unfairly from other homeowners. They must follow the same rules. The Roberts have, as expected, appealed this denial to City Council. The hearing is May 11th. Send testimony to: planning@ci.cannon-beach.or.us.

The Roberts also decided to plead their case to the community at large, via an open letter dated April 15th. The letter informs us that “Oregon has always been home to our family…Over the years, as we vacationed, we knew Cannon Beach was more than a vacation destination to us — it was home.” They cast themselves as victims of “obstacles” they face “to make our dream a reality.” The letter does not explain that the lot had oceanfront setback rules when the Roberts bought it, or that they could easily build a slightly smaller house on the lot that is well within the median size of Cannon Beach houses. ORCA hopes that, as it did once before, Cannon Beach City Council will enforce its public health and safety requirements, and uphold the oceanfront setback.
Florence City Council Approves the Benedick Annexation
Benedick Holdings LLC Annexation Proposal. Courtesy City of Florence
Florence City Council in April gave final approval of the proposed annexation of the Benedick LLC property into the city. There was little discussion and no examination of the many issues surrounding this annexation, ranging from flooding to stormwater drainage. Both Lane County Commissioner Jay Bozievich and Florence Public Works Department raised red flags about this annexation. 

Benedick LLC developed several adjacent subdivisions in the area — whose residents, out of experience with the company's poor planning, oppose this current annexation. Lane County never accepted Benedick’s stormwater system for these other subdivisions as a county system, because it was incomplete. Commissioner Bozievich cautioned that Florence should require a study by a professional engineer to discern whether downstream stormwater systems can handle the discharge safely from a new subdivision. Florence Public Works cautioned that there needs to be additional analysis before the city takes on the longterm maintenance of Oceana Drive, slated to be part of the annexation. Public Works also noted problems with the existing, poorly designed stormwater system, and the fact that the proposed annexation area is largely comprised of seasonal lakes.

But Florence City Council ignored these warnings from knowledgeable local officials, and approved the annexation, though it clearly does not meet the standards for “orderly and economic” provision of infrastructure services. ORCA and concerned local residents continue to examine the record and the history of Benedick LLC in this area to determine their best options for protecting the area.
Bandon City Council Approves Bandon Beach Hotel
USFWS Drilling Rig on Coquille Point March 25, 2021
Bandon City Council, with essentially no discussion or debate, approved the Plan Review for Bandon Beach Hotel — the final approval needed for the Keiser hotel slated to replace the aging Bandon Beach Motel on Coquille Point. This was despite the opportunity Council had to revisit the geological hazard problems for the site that have never been resolved, and authorize a new geological study.

The Bandon bluff area, including Coquille Point where the hotel is proposed, is the city’s main aquifer. There are no basements in Bandon because groundwater flows year round. Yet Northworks, the applicant’s own consultant, measured the water table at seventeen feet below the surface — just four feet below the proposed hotel foundation’s elevator shaft. During the wet season, the groundwater level would be higher. There are numerous seeps and springs on the Coquille Point hillside, especially at slope breaks and the base of the slope. Additionally, there are slope movements on the bluff that result from significant groundwater pressures. The building of a deeply excavated hotel will throw off the balance of pressures on the bluff, and undoubtedly destabilize it further. 

Coquille Point is a National Wildlife Refuge owned and managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. USFWS is very concerned about the groundwater and the potential effects the hotel would have on their adjacent stairway to the beach. The agency hired a drill rig to take samples of the soil to test groundwater levels in order to have a baseline of the existing situation. It is to be hoped that objective geological and groundwater information will affect the ultimate plans for the hotel, despite City Council’s cavalier dismissal of concerns about these longstanding problems.