Oregon Coast Alliance Newsletter
Illegal Extensions and Facebook Problems
Port Orford Issues Another Illegal Extension for Knapp Ranch Golf Course Effluent Permit

Port Orford Heads. Courtesy Wikimedia
There is a central outstanding permit which the Knapp Ranch golf course applicants must obtain in order to move forward with the project as currently envisioned: a permit from the Department of Environmental Quality for reuse of Port Orford's wastewater to irrigate the golf course. Thus far, the applicants (Elk River Property Development) have not provided DEQ the information necessary to complete processing a draft permit for public comment.

Port Orford  in April 2017 granted ERPD the permits for building an effluent pipeline from the city's wastewater treatment plant to the Knapp Ranch, which lies just outside  the urban  growth boundary. The company requested an  extension for  these land use approvals in 2018, as allowed by Port Orford ordinances, saying they needed  further time to work  with DEQ to finalize information for the  wastewater permit. The planning commission duly granted the extension.

But then ERPD requested another extension in 2019 for the exact same reason, and another in March 2020, again on the same grounds. Port Orford planning commission granted  both, but  in doing so they acted illegally. The town's ordinances  only allow an  extension "for an additional period not to exceed one year "  after the permit is granted, unless "substantial construction" has taken place. No construction has taken place. The only legal extension was granted in 2018. How long will Port Orford continue granting illegal extensions for this golf course proposal? The ordinances are clear, but the planning commission is not upholding the law.
Tierra del Mar and Facebook: The Battle Continues

Edge Cable Equipment for Submarine Cable in Tierra del Mar, March 2020. Courtesy Ed Ruttledge
Tillamook County Board of Commissioners in a shocking vote allowed a Facebook contractor to move ahead with placing its submarine cable landing on a small lot in the very rural community of Tierra del Mar. Tillamook County's computer system was shut down by malware, which derailed the final proceedings a bit, but the project is now, slowly, moving ahead. The community and Oregon Coast Alliance have appealed the approval to the Land Use Board of Appeals, but Facebook has decided to  get the project underway  despite the court case. Drilling is currently on hold, per the Tillamook County order, and  is set to  begin April 7th.

As the community prophesied, the equipment Edge Cable needs for the project is far too bulky and unwieldy for the tiny lot they purchased. The  current equipment onsite  does not even include the daily truckloads of mud slurry, water, fuel and other materials that will occur once the active drilling begins. It is clearer than ever, as both ORCA and the community stated numerous times, that this lot does not meet the criterion of "suitability of the site" for the intended use. In addition, the flimsy "noise barrier" the company put up is literally flapping in the strong coastal winds,  much of the plastic sheeting torn from its scaffold.

Perhaps worst of all, Edge Cable has substituted key drilling equipment for that used  as the basis  of the acoustical evaluation report which figured prominently in Tillamook County ' s decision to grant the permit. Does this new equipment render the report's conclusions void? But even if all goes as planned, Facebook barely has enough time to get all the work done in the time specified in their permit. That is, if nothing goes wrong - a very big "if" indeed.
Wheeler and the Ulbricht Appeals in a Time of Restrictions

Wheeler Waterfront. Courtesy City of Wheeler
Ken Ulbricht, a Seaside developer, proposes a "boutique" hotel and a commercial building - which would  include  fish processing, a restaurant, employee housing, and possibly some kind of community space - right on the Wheeler waterfront facing Nehalem Bay. The fight over these proposals has been intense from the outset, with most of the community, as well as Oregon Coast Alliance, opposing them. The planning commission approved the commercial building but denied the permit for the hotel. Both sides appealed the decisions to City Council.

Then the ongoing public health restrictions kicked in statewide. Council had been planning to hear both appeals on March 17th, but has shifted the hearing now to the Council meeting of April 21st. The looming question is: if restrictions on meetings are still in effect by April 21st, what will Wheeler do? Possibly a remote video meeting, possibly requesting the applicant to extend the 120-day timeline by which the decision must be made. This is a problem replicated around the state as local governments try to meet deadlines,  reschedule  hearings, use unfamiliar technology and meet the requirements of state and local land use laws regarding deadlines.  Oregon Coast Alliance and the residents of Wheeler are both keeping close watch to ensure nothing gets slipped by during the confusion.
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