The Curry County Board of Commissioners approved a request Wednesday from Elk River Development to build a pipeline through Port Orford to carry treated effluent to its new Pacific Gales golf course south of Cape Blanco.
The pipeline would zig and zag through various rights of ways to connect the city’s wastewater treatment plant and the course, just getting underway on the Knapp Ranch.
The approval also validates a conditional use permit contested by the Oregon Coast Alliance (ORCA) , an Astoria-based environmental group, that said the development company was not complying with one of its conditions in the permit. The group contended — and commissioners disagreed — that they failed to reapply for the conditional use permit when it expired in January 2016.
The developers, however, argued that because work to remove invasive gorse was ongoing, that kept the permit intact.
“We’re happy to finally have closure on this issue,” said Managing Partner Jim Haley. “We couldn’t have gotten this far without overwhelming support from the people of Port Orford and throughout Curry County. And we appreciate everyone who has come out to these meetings to speak on our behalf — it shows how much the county stands behind the project and wants to see Pacific Gales succeed.”
ORCA has also held up construction by appealing county decisions to the state land use board, saying the development would harm the environment, including wetlands, a creek and the bluffs overlooking the ocean.
“What some people don’t understand is that Pacific Gales’ business model has been environmentally friendly from the beginning,” Haley told the commissioners. “Stewardship of this amazing land has been at the forefront of every step we’ve taken throughout the permitting process.”
And using products — be it water or treated “cake” from which water has been pressed out — from treatment plants isn’t new. The city of Brookings allows a Harbor hydrangea grower to use some of the cake its plant treats. In turn, the city reduced its disposal costs to haul it to the landfill in White City.
“Using reclaimed water — more importantly, keeping that wastewater from being pumped into our fragile ocean ecosystem — is another example of Pacific Gales’ commitment to environmental best practices,” Haley said.
The developers, who have been working on the project for years, are now soliciting memberships for the 18-hole facility.
“There’s real excitement in the community about Pacific Gales — we feel it every day talking to local business owners and area residents,” Haley said. “We’re working hard to make Pacific Gales a fixture of Curry County that boosts the tourism economy and creates a strong economic impact for decades to come.”
ORCA has also contested the development because it is on land zoned for agriculture uses. County commissioners ultimately deemed golf an appropriate use for the area.
“The Knapp Ranch site is a truly special piece of land, and an extraordinary place to have the privilege of building a world-class golf course,” Haley said. “We take that privilege very seriously and look forward to the day when golfers and travelers can experience this beautiful stretch of Oregon coastline.”
Reach Jane Stebbins at firstname.lastname@example.org .