GOLD BEACH The Curry County Commissioners denied a zone change Monday that could have allowed the construction of an 18-room lodge and full-service restaurant two miles up the Chetco River from Brookings.
Commissioners Lucie La Bont and Marlyn Schafer cited concerns about sewage disposal as their main reason for denying the application for a zone change from rural residential five to rural resort commercial.
According to the final order denying the application, John and Patricia Curry had indicated if their application was approved, they would apply for a conditional use permit to develop the lodge and restaurant.
Hearings on the application were held on Feb. 6, April 3 and May 22. The commissioners closed the record to further testimony May 22 and approved a motion to deny the application.
The order said the applicants had originally proposed an on-site standard septic system for the property.
The drain field, however, would have been put on a part of the property composed of artificial fill, which would have been illegal.
The applicants then submitted a septic feasibility report suggesting the effluent could be disposed of by drip irrigation or placement in a wetland or adjacent property through easement.
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) said drip irrigation had been used only for individual homes and not commercial uses. It also said wetland disposal might not work with high winter rainfall.
The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said those two options were experimental and may or may not work.
Todd Confer, writing for the department, said, Because the Chetco River supports significant fisheries and is already listed on DEQs 303(d) List of Water Quality Limited Waterbodies, we think that the floodplain adjacent to the Chetco River is a particularly poor place to experiment with septic systems.
The order also said the applicants provided no evidence that they could obtain a septic drainage easement from adjacent neighbors.
The order said, Specifically, the board (of commissioners) finds that the applicants have not shown that rezoning the subject property will not adversely impact the orderly provision of public services to include sewer.
It went on to say, The possible adverse impact from the development may be exacerbated by the proximity of the proposed structure to the fish-bearing Chetco River.
In short, the applicants have not met their burden of proof to show that the proposed use for the property is feasible, particularly in light of septic considerations.
The order said the subject property is within the expanded Brookings Urban Growth Boundary. The draft facilities plan calls for a sewer line to be run out to the property in the future.
Schafer said she would support the building of the lodge if it could be put on a regular sewer line. She suggested the applicants form a local improvement district to get sewer service out there.
La Bont said only one large sewage treatment plant is allowed within each urban growth boundary. She said the DEQ would consider a septic system for a lodge to be another large system.
She said the whole idea of urban growth boundaries was that development within them would be done properly.