In March, Elk River Property Development came with yet a third request for an extension of its conditional use permits to construct a pipeline for reclaimed water from Port Orford’s sewage treatment plant to a proposed golf course north of town. Port Orford Planning granted the extension in spite of the city’s Municipal Code, which states that the commission “may extend authorization for an additional period not to exceed one year. …”
That allowed extension came in 2018. But in 2019, ERPD asked for and received a second extension, improperly, and here they were again in 2020. It was time, a local resident thought, to cry foul. She appealed the PC decision to the Port Orford City Council in May. And when the Council upheld the decision, claiming they could “interpret” the code to allow extensions basically every year until forever, she decided to take it to the state Land Use Board of Appeals for a hearing. No date has been set as of this writing.
An alert observer might suspect that something was up with the golf course project. It has been five years in the making now, with no progress off the drawing board, in spite of having virtually every permit necessary.
ERPD claims that they need these multiple CUP extensions in order to continue working with the Department of Environmental Quality on a permit to use reclaimed water. But DEQ says they have been waiting quite a while and are more than ready for ERPD to submit their plan. So what’s the problem?
An active CUP for the pipeline is not even needed in order to obtain the DEQ permit. ERPD could resubmit a pipeline application to Port Orford later, if their CUPs elapsed — as they should — for lack of progress. (And maybe by then they could settle on one of their alternative routes as well.) Could it be that there is not enough investor money to pay for a miles-long pipeline to water a golf course on top of other construction costs?
Port Orford is being asked to continue to believe in ERPD’s dream of golf on the coastline. But this dream is fading rapidly into the sunset, taking with it the hoped-for economic benefits so long promised Port Orford and Curry County citizens.