LAKE HOMES MAY STILL BE AT RISK FROM WINTER FLOODING

September 30, 2000 12:00 am

PORT ORFORD Homes on Garrison Lake still could be flooded this winter, despite the best efforts of County Commissioner Lloyd Olds and Emergency Services Coordinator Mike Murphy.

The lake flooded six homes in January before an emergency channel to the ocean was cut.

County officials ordered the breach after the Port Orford city council voted against doing so, preferring to let nature take its course.

Efforts to get permits to maintain the breach through this winter have come to a halt because of one property owners refusal to allow access to his land, where the breach site is located, Olds said.

The land between the lake and the sea is the site of a mobile home park owned by Dr. Camille Mouchawar of Los Angeles.

Olds met with the city councilors Tuesday and told them the situation is preventing Murphy from securing a continuing maintenance permit from the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.

State parks wont issue the permit without Mouchawars permission to cross his land, Olds said.

Olds, who has not spoken with Mouchawar recently, learned earlier this summer that the point of contention is Mouchawars dispute with the city over development costs.

Mouchawar signed contracts with the city in 1998 and in April of this year to pay for all utility hookups for his development at one time, said City Councilor Norm Leeling.

Mouchawars building permit from the city expires in early 2001, and nothing has been done so far except for some land clearing.

Olds said Mouchawar is concerned that the mobile home spaces may not be rented for years.

It would be appropriate to allow Mouchawar to pay the hookup fees as he rents the spaces, or at least pay for a few at a time, he said.

Olds said he and Murphy have invested considerable time in an attempt to accomplish a long term fix on the Garrison Lake problem.

We are not doing this because of responsibility or liability, but because we feel it is right, he said.

Olds and Commissioner Bill Roberts received praise from citizens and the media for their quick and decisive response to breach the lake last winter.

Olds proposed permanent outfall was even nicknamed re-election creek.

However, he said he started working on the flooding problem long before he decided to run again.

In regards to issue with Mouchawar, Olds said, I am asking for everyone to join in a spirit of cooperation and make it possible to proceed further toward our goal of a permanent fix on the Garrison Lake problem.

He told the council it is not right to let nature take its course. This is something we need to do.

Olds has lined up someone who may be willing to pay 75 percent of the cost of a permanent fix. If the county uses its own equipment, that could count as the 25 percent match, he said.

Olds refused to reveal the identity of the benefactor, saying he needed to get the Mouchawar issue settled first before he would approach that group or individual again.

Olds also showed an illustrated proposal of how a spillway and 1,680-foot culvert could connect with the old natural outlet to the ocean that has been cut off by sand dunes.

City Councilor Bob Waring called that hypothetical, since the natural outlet no longer exists.

In regards to the hookup issue, Mouchawar is in complete breach with city ordinance, Waring said. He asked if a deal was made with Mouchawar, would the city be able to enforce that ordinance anywhere?

City Councilor Jim Campbell said the city has an obligation to do something about the flooding, and try to work something out with Mouchawar.

Waring said, The role of the city should be to put pressure on the state.

Its legally not the citys responsibility. If it gets involved again, it could be. We should jump the people responsible for this: the state.

When the citys sewer outfall to the ocean washed away, the state put restrictions on sewer hookups, Waring said.

He asked what the state would do if the city made a deal with Mouchawar. He also asked if the city would then have any credibility with other developers.

Fred McMillan, who lives on the lake, said he was frustrated.

Im only hearing reasons why you cant expedite the maintenance permit, McMillan said. I cant see anything sacred about city ordinances. They were made to be changed.

He added, In view of the city councils abdication of a longtime responsibility. Im grateful to the county commissioners.

City Councilor Norm Leeling said moving dunes have changed the beach line so much that it may be public property now not Mouchawars.

He asked for a legal opinion on that.

Waring said state park regulations base the beach line on the vegetation line.

Mayor Gary Doran and other city councilors said that might be in dispute, but felt Mouchawar could probably prevail in court.

They instead instructed City Administrator Martha Weaver-Britell to ask the citys attorney about the legalities involved in changing the hookup fee schedule for Mouchawar.

They also asked her to contact Mouchawar and get something in writing about what it would take to get access to his land again.

Most citizens at the meeting seemed to think that was a reasonable course of action, but Leonard Foster said, Who is this Dr. Mouchawar and where does he live to put a gun to Port Orfords head?

Foster said the flooding is an emergency and urged the city to make an ordinance allowing it to cross Mouchawars property. Youre not tough enough, he told the city council.

Leeling said they were tough enough. He also said it disturbed him personally that Mouchawar would use the hookup issue now after agreeing to the citys plan twice before.