The Curry County Planning Commission failed to seat a quorum last Thursday night to address the appeal of an approval for an Ashland resident to place 11 “vintage” RV campers, a manager’s unit and laundry and shower facility on a three-acre parcel in Nesika Beach.
But the applicants, nearby residents and others were able to discuss their concerns amongst themselves — and even come to agreement on some of the issues.
The project approval was an administrative decision, but its appeal was returned to the planning commission. If there had been a second appeal on their decision, it would have gone to the state land use board — and likely drawn the process out for months.
Garth Evey and Jeven Showers of Nesika Beach requested a conditional use permit to building three RV spaces on one of the two lots and the remainder in a second phase. The lots would be combined after the second phase. On each parcel, they want to place a vintage Silver Stream trailer.
“This application has been appealed by two parties, and neither includes a reason for the appeal nor concerns raised by the application,” Interim Planning Director John Bischoff wrote in his report to the planning commissioner.
“Two big words,” said Carl King of Nesika Beach and one of the two appealing the decision. “Setback and septic.”
“It should come as no surprise that wastewater treatment, especially in the context of the bluff, is a big concern,” documents from those appealing the project reads. And it should come as no surprise that the neighborhood does not want the bluff to be used for either stormwater discharge or access to the beach.”
The Oregon Coast Alliance, an environmental group based in Astoria, also had its eyes on the project, and had objections based on how close the RV units were proposed to be placed to the unstable bluffs on the property.
King said Thursday night that the land is subject to the shoreland overlay district implemented in 2014 and nothing about it was mentioned in the county documents.
“Staff didn’t deal with it; the staff report didn’t deal with it,” he said, adding that ORCA often appeals such decisions based on procedural mistakes. “I know that the neighbors feel they were poorly served by the process. The applicant was poorly served by the process. If we can somehow go back and have a decision that reflects all the issues, it should … satisfy ORCA.”
Bischoff’s staff report indicates the septic issues will be addressed by the state Department of Environmental Quality and erosion control by an engineered drainage plan required as one of the conditions of approval.
Evey and Showers submitted a list of 23 conditions they were willing to abide by with the development, but all of the setbacks listed had no numerical designation filled in. For example, No. 14: No structure shall be located more than ––––– feet from Nesika Road.”
Another issue brought up is whether the project was signed by the correct people in the county planning department.
ORCA called the proposal a “very sketchy application.”
“It sounds quite inoffensive,” the group wrote in its newsletter, “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 5- to 10-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.”
ORCA said the county should require a 100-foot setback from the cliff and require the applicants to submit a geohazard report.
ORCA also said that when asked about water and electricity to the property — the county has deemed there is adequate sources nearby — the applicants said they don’t believe much more will be needed than is already on site.
“The county failed to inquire into this description, which discusses no standards and provides no details,” ORCA wrote. Eleven RVs could hold at least 22 people, if not more.”
The nonprofit was concerned about the old septic system on the property and wondered if it should be relocated farther from the bluffs, which are prone to erosion to the ocean below.
ORCA, which often contests decisions based on procedural mistakes, said there was no analysis by county staff 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.”