Oregon Coast Alliance Newsletter
Listening to the Public in Controversial Projects
Bandon Beach Hotel Appeal at City Council: Tuesday, April 9th
Revised Bandon Beach Hotel, View from the Southwest. Courtesy City of Bandon
Oregon Coast Alliance and Bob and Carol Fischer appealed the Bandon planning commission approval of the Keiser Bandon Beach Hotel. City Council will hold a hearing:

Tuesday, April 9, 2019
5:00 PM
Bandon City Hall
555 Highway 101
City Council Chambers

Curiously, Bandon officials chose the most restrictive option for the appeal, electing to hold it "on the record," which means no new evidence will be accepted. But Bandon proposes to further restrict public input. The hearing notice says, "There will be no public comment or testimony accepted at this hearing." So interested city residents, neighbors or others who are concerned about this proposal will not even be able to submit testimony at the hearing about matters already in the record. People who testified at the planning commission level will apparently not be considered "parties" who can provide additional comments. Why is Bandon so concerned about receiving additional public input? This hotel proposal has serious issues, ranging from geohazard concerns  over  movement of the head scarp to cliff stability from the digging of a basement - not to mention stormwater management, and the appropriateness of building a 60-lot parking lot in the neighborhood along Portland Avenue.

One might think Bandon officials would welcome additional public comment about so momentous a proposal, rather than restricting it only to the applicant and the appellants. But even with this narrowed public input, it is clear that the issues are many, are serious, and will definitely impact the National Wildlife Refuge unit that surrounds the property on all sides except Portland Avenue. Since Bandon residents fought so hard for years to include Coquille Point as part of the Refuge, the hotel proposal's importance is greatly magnified for city residents. Council needs to take into account not only the proposed hotel's impact on Coquille Point, as required by law, but also weigh the importance of the Point to Bandon residents. The desire of a powerful employer for a new hotel is not adequate grounds for approving this proposal when it fails to meet so many standards required for approval in this sensitive area.

Tillamook-Oceanside Transmission Line Process Continues
TPUD Proposed Oceanside Transmission Line Route. Courtesy TPUD
The proposed Tillamook-Oceanside Transmission Line  (TOTL) would  cross some eight miles of farm and forestland for a new and unnecessary 115 KV transmission line,  and would cost $7 million.Tillamook  People's Utility District (TPUD) continues to shepherd the proposal through the permitting  process, despite  ample testimony showing the line is costly and unnecessary - plus opposed by virtually all of the landowners whose properties the transmission line would cross. 

Tillamook County Board of Commissioners approved the line. Tilla-Bay Farms, a major farming operation whose lands the line would have to march across, appealed the decision to the Land Use Board of Appeals. ORCA intervened in support of Tilla-Bay. LUBA's recent opinion did not agree with our arguments, and approved the County permit; but there remain many unanswered questions.TPUD must also get a certificate of necessity from the Public Utility Commission in order to use eminent domain to acquire easements across the lands of unwilling owners. This process is ongoing, with briefs for both sides being filed in  the case  proceeding.

The best news for  the ratepayers in Tillamook County who understand that TOTL is a fiasco for TPUD, and the landowners  in the transmission line's pathway, is that two of its biggest supporters on the TPUD Board were defeated in the November 2018 elections. Ed Jenkins and Ken Phillips, both longtime members of the Board,  lost their bids for re-election  largely because of their support for the line. Jenkins in December 2017 wrote an abrupt letter to the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association, in which he accused ODFA of an outright lie, and also said, "TPUD and I know far better than you do the value of the agricultural and forestry industry [sic] and its impact on the economy of Tillamook County."

ORCA hopes that the new Board members of TPUD will focus on listening to their ratepayers, and exercising responsible oversight  on  TPUD's projects and financial future. A hard look at the proposed Oceanside line shows it is not a good decision for the utility, the ratepayers or the residents of Oceanside, whose  service reliability  is supposed to be improved by its construction.

Edge Cable Submarine Cable Project in Tierra del Mar Gears up for County Permit
Sitka Sedge State Natural Area, directly adjacent to Tierra del Mar. Photo courtesy OPRD
Edge Cable LLC, a contractor for Facebook, is seeking the permits for a submarine cable between the Oregon coast and the Philippines. They have chosen a vacant lot in the quiet rural community of Tierra del Mar for their project. Unfortunately, drilling the cable requires much heavy equipment, and months of loud, constant drilling. Facebook has lately been trying to downplay the noise, vibration and industrial nature of the project, but residents of Tierra del Mar are very alarmed by this project.

Edge Cable recently applied to Tillamook County for a conditional use permit, having already applied to the Parks and Recreation Department and Department of State Lands for other needed permits. The Tillamook County permit will be the central one determining whether this project meets the requirements of the land use laws. Is an industrial project appropriate for a quiet, residentially-zoned property? Goal 11 of the land use laws concerns Public Facilities, such as water, sewage, fire protection and storm drainage. In the Tillamook County Plan, Goal 11 includes "Communications." But the entire discussion, a single paragraph, concerns telephone service  for county residents.  It is highly debatable whether a Facebook cable to the Philippines will benefit Tillamook County residents.

The  Planning Department  can request Edge Cable submit additional studies or information as part of the application.  That would be a good idea, as there are many unanswered questions. What about the equipment staging plan, on a tiny lot less than an acre in size? What about emergency response in the rather remote Tierra del Mar area, served by one narrow County road, without fire hydrants and with a small water system having a maximum of 30,000 gallons?  What about the hazardous chemicals involved in drilling a submarine cable? Edge Cable says they are non-toxic and environmentally friendly, but that is not the description of several of the identified compounds in the literature on  similar kinds of  drilling. What about the severe noise hazards associated with this kind of project?

Hopefully, Tillamook County will send the application to the planning commission for a hearing. That way the Tierra del Mar community can have its concerns be heard. There are alternatives: vacant public properties on the coast that Edge Cable could use for this project, which would be much more suitable. These include, for example, lands being used for gravel storage or port-related developments. ORCA  continues to work with  Tierra del Mar  residents  opposing this project.

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