On March 10, 2020, Elk River Property Development (ERPD) again applied to the Port Orford Planning Commission for an extension to its Conditional Use Permits (CUPs) for an effluent pipeline from Port Orford to the farmland it is leasing to build a golf course. (Maybe. Someday.)
The Planning Commission approved the extension, in spite of city code that explicitly forbids it. The decision was appealed by a local resident, with the testimony below submitted to the City Council as the basis for the appeal. The hearing before the council is set for May 21, 2020. Agenda and packet information is here: May 21 City Council Meeting
E-mail testimony to firstname.lastname@example.org and/or attend the meeting at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday. PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS A VIRTUAL MEETING. The agenda gives information on how to attend by phone and online.
It’s becoming more and more obvious that this golf course is not going to be built. It’s time to cut off its pipeline “life support.”
TESTIMONY OPPOSING EXTENSION OF THE CONDITIONAL USE PERMITS
ERPD is asking for a third extension on its Port Orford permits for effluent pipeline alternatives. The pipeline is meant to serve the golf course they propose for a location outside the city at Knapp Ranch. They say they need this extension in order to continue working with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) on a Water Pollution Control Facilities (WPCF) permit. That is not the case.
ERPD has used the same reasoning twice now, claiming a need for more time “to finalize the plans, maps and equipment used for the application of treated effluent for irrigation purposes.” Obviously there are problems with the project.
Port Orford’s Municipal Code allows for extensions not to exceed one year. I quote from Chapter 17.32, Conditional Uses:
17.32.060 Time limit on a permit for conditional use.
Authorization of a conditional use shall be void after one year or such lesser time as the authorization may specify unless substantial construction has taken place. However, the Planning Commission may extend authorization for an additional period not to exceed one year, upon written application to the Planning Commission. (Ord. 278 § 6.050, 1977)
ERPD has already received two extensions of these CUPs, in 2018 and 2019, each time for a year. It was a violation of the Municipal Code to grant the extension in 2019, because the Code only allows extensions that total one year from the original approval.
The only exception to this one-year rule is if “substantial construction has taken place.” No construction at all has taken place to date on any portion of the project. Clearly,
1) the Code does not allow efforts to obtain a DEQ permit to qualify as “substantial construction,” and
2) allowing extensions to continue indefinitely is explicitly prohibited.
Therefore, the request for another extension must be denied.
Further, ERPD has not stated nor proved that these CUPs must be active in order to complete its application for a WPCF permit. A pipeline permit must be in hand before construction can begin, but ERPD does not need one before they can obtain a WPCF permit. After this extension is denied, they may reapply for a conditional use permit for the effluent pipeline at a later date.