Oregon Coast Alliance Newsletter
Good News on Two Coastal Projects!
Gearhart Planning Commission Recommends Against Palmberg Paving: Next Hearing November 7th 
Aerial View of Gearhart, Oregon. Courtesy Amos Meron/Wikimedia
At its final hearing on the proposal by Palmberg Paving to rezone 27 acres of land to allow a 7-acre subdivision, the Gearhart planning commission turned down the proposal. They recommended to Gearhart City Council that the application be denied. This is tremendous  news. 

The  combination of neighbors opposing the zone change for a variety of important local reasons, plus ORCA's testimony,  let  the planning commission  know  that this rezone was not in the public interest. ORCA pointed out that this rezone would ultimately allow housing to be built on seven acres of land directly adjacent to, and hydrologically connected to, a large wetland complex. Gearhart has an overlay zone whose purpose is specifically to protect freshwater wetlands like these. The overlay zone requires "low intensity uses which do not result in major alterations." A housing development does not fit in with these wetland protection requirements. 

We also stressed that the applicant had not shown any land use need at all for the housing this development would provide, especially since by all indication the applicant is aiming for houses in the $300,000 range. That is certainly not affordable housing. Finally, some of the soils onsite contain residual contamination, which the Department of Environmental Quality noted in giving the property a bill of health. This is of great concern, especially as wetlands are hydrologically connected and water travels easily through them.

The City Council hearing will be on Wednesday, November 7th.  Submit  testimony to Cheryl Lund  at the City of Gearhart here .

Clatsop County Denies Dollar General Store for Knappa 
Dollar General Store in Clarksville, TN. Courtesy Mike Kalasnik/Wikimedia
ORCA is happy to announce that the Clatsop County Board of Commissioners unanimously denied a proposed Dollar General store for Knappa at a meeting in early October. Cross Development proposed to  demolish  an existing vacant building on Highway  30, and  build another more than twice as  large that  would have measured 9,100 square feet. The rural commercial zone on the property generally limits businesses to  4,100  square feet.

The Clatsop County planning commission had also recommended against the Dollar General. The Board of Commissioners decided against the application chiefly because it did not meet several of the requirements of the zone, which  include  support of existing businesses, contribution to the community's identity and providing necessary services for the surrounding community. The proposed Dollar General met none of these criteria. Furthermore, the County placed the 4,100 square foot size limitation in the zone in order to curb the likelihood that a huge new business would overwhelm or undermine existing, smaller, businesses. In its staff report, the County astutely pointed out that while Dollar General explained how a store in Knappa would fit its growth strategy, the company did not analyze how the store would fit the community's needs. 

Commissioners commented on the problems communities face when large, national, discount stores come to town. Local businesses are unable to compete with the lower prices these chains can subsidize, and the community's own businesses begin to fail. In this case, the people of the Knappa area were very concerned about the Country Market in nearby Svenson, which is a longstanding local store. They were concerned about the identity and future of the Knappa community. The Board of Commissioners heard their testimony and turned the Dollar General proposal down. We thank them for this wise decision.

Curry County Approves the Nesika Road RV Park 
Nesika Beach, Oregon. Courtesy Wikimedia
Curry County received an application for a recreational vehicle (RV) park  in  the rural community of  Nesika Beach, just north of Gold Beach. The very sketchy application requested approval for an RV park consisting of eleven pre-parked "vintage" campers on an oceanfront 3-acre parcel zoned Rural Commercial. This sounds quite inoffensive, but there is more to the proposal than this. The site is located  on  the high sandstone bluff at Nesika Beach, yet the County's administrative decision only cites a requirement for five to ten foot setbacks from lot lines and roads, without even mentioning the serious geohazards inherent in placing an RV park adjacent to an eroding sandstone bluff.  The County  should  require  a 100-foot setback from the cliff for any structure,  and require the applicants to submit  a geohazard report.

What about providing water, electricity and septic? The  applicants stated vaguely, "Because we intend to provide relatively light utility services to our guests, we do not anticipate needing more water, electricity or other services than currently serve the property." The County failed to inquire into this description, which discusses no standards and provides no details. Eleven RV's could hold at least 22 people, if not more, certainly a  substantial group  of occupants for a rural area. What about septic service? If the owners propose to use the old septic system  apparently still on the property,  it would most probably need modernization, if it should be used at all. Where is it located - near the bluff, or further back where it cannot contribute to erosion? The application does not say. In fact, it does not mention septic service at all.

Curry County approved the RV park administratively, so there was no analysis by County staff, no hearing,  and  no obligation on the applicant's part to provide a detailed application. The County has not provided adequate oversight in its approval of this vague and potentially dangerous development. ORCA is very concerned about the public health and safety that will result if the RV park is built, as are local residents.

Hearing on Keiser's Revised Bandon Beach Hotel: November 15th 
Revised Bandon Beach Hotel, View from the Southwest. Courtesy City of Bandon
The Keiser proposal for Bandon Beach Hotel has surfaced again. The applicants decided to withdraw the original proposal, after the Bandon planning commission turned down their request for a zone change to build a taller and bigger hotel than Bandon ordinances allow in that location.

Now Keiser has resubmitted the hotel application. Though slightly smaller, in order to fit height and size restrictions, in other particulars the new proposal is very much the same as the old. The new hotel would still be a glass box that does not fit the neighborhood, is incompatible with the surrounding Coquille Point Unit of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, and would be placed on an unstable cliff edge, as is the current hotel.

Concerned about this big hotel that does not belong in Bandon next to the Refuge? The hearing is Thursday, November 15th at 7:00 PM in The Bandon City Hall Council Chambers, at 555 Highway 101, in Bandon. Please attend if you can! Submit testimony via email here.

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