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Golf course closer to reality

The Crook family of Pistol River is one step closer to seeing its proposed golf course become reality after Curry County commissioners approved the admission into the formal record four issues with which the state Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) had problems.

“There are four assignments of error that were sustained,” County Attorney Jerry Herbage explained to the commissioners Wednesday. “The issue for the board is whether they have been adequately addressed.”

Two of the three county commissioners are new to the resort development proposal – whose paperwork stood in folders 9 inches tall on a table – and requested more time to review it.

It will again be up for discussion Feb. 13 and a possible “oral decision,” which is one step shy of a written, approved project.

“In land use, there is no ‘final’ until it’s in writing,” Herbage said. “And then it can be appealed again to LUBA.”

Three of the four remaining points involved clarifying information, to which the county was amenable. But the fourth noted that the development is not located within the “coastal shorelands,” as defined by statewide Land Use Goal 17. 

That goal requires more stringent review. That issue has had numerous submittals in opposition, said Assistant County Attorney Peter Schannauer.

“LUBA said when they delineated it, they focused on the lands affected by wave action,” he explained. “But they have to look at more land than the land (directly) affected. They have to look at what’s adjacent – and by ‘adjacent,’ they mean ‘next to’ – to the land affected by the wave action to see if it’s geologically unstable.”

Opponents still contend there should be no water drawdowns, which can occur as water is used at a development. 

“The opposition wants no drawdowns,” Schannauer said. “But the applicant says some drawdowns are permitted, so long as there are no impacts on vegetation, water quality or allow saltwater intrusion (from ocean water).”

The project has a somewhat tumultuous history.

The county approved a tentative master plan for the resort in Dec. 2010. 

What’s at stake is a $20 million development that would include an 18-hole golf course, a nine-hole golf course, a golf shop, golf lodge, spa lodge and interpretive center, 175 overnight lodging units, resort-owner and employee housing and an equestrian center.

The family is developing the resort on a 378-acre tract zoned Forestry-Grazing, a part of 2,800 acres it owns next to Crook Point, south of Pistol River, about halfway between Brookings and Gold Beach. 

The property is adjacent to the Crook Point Unit of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex, deemed to be the second-most important seabird nesting site on the West Coast.

The proposal, years in the works, has been challenged in appeals to LUBA from Ocean Shores Conservation Coalition, an environmental group whose website says is dedicated to preserving the natural communities, ecosystems and landscapes of the Oregon coast.

After the first appeal, the county agreed to include conditions intended to help protect the wildlife refuge and prevent invasive species encroachment. But Ocean Shores argued that other concerns surrounding water, erosion and stormwater weren’t properly addressed.

The organization said in a March 2011 statement that the issue isn’t whether the resort or any other project can be built on the land, but that the county did not follow its own process, notably requiring a geologic hazard report before issuing a permit on the “visibly landslide-prone site.”

“While we may not be enthusiastic about the ordinance and the development it may allow,” Curry County’s version is considered the best such destination resort ordinance in the state,” Ocean Shores wrote in a July 2010 statement. “We can take pride in having achieved the best possible result in the circumstances.”

Last December, LUBA agreed with the Ocean Shores and remanded those four issues to the county to address; in the ensuing months, the proposal has gone through processes to admit new material, and face rebuttals and final arguments.

County commissioners will review the proposal again at its Feb. 13 meeting. 

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