Crook Point Destination Resort Sent Back to Curry County a Second Time

Crook Point, Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge

The Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) remanded the Crook Point Destination Resort approval back to Curry County a second time in October 2013 to fix more flaws and provide accurate geological information.

Here’s the ongoing saga of this resort proposed for Oregon’s wild, fragile and beautiful south coast.

Curry County’s Planning Commission in 2010 approved the Tentative Master Plan for the Crook Point Destination Resort south of the Pistol River in north central Curry County. The 443 acres proposed for the resort lie adjacent to Crook Point Unit of Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, and also to Pistol River State Park. More than half of the land (245 acres) is west of Highway 101 and fronts the Pacific Ocean. The resort would include an 18-hole golf course, a 9-hole golf course, a golf shop and lodge, a spa lodge, 175 units of “overnight accommodation,” mostly in the form of cabins, an equestrian center and a small subdivision of eleven lots. If approved, the Crook family plan to develop the resort in five phases over a six year period. ORCA appealed the Board of Commissioners’ 2010 approval of the resort to the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA). In May, 2011, LUBA handed down its opinion, agreeing with ORCA on several points and remanding the destination resort approval to Curry County, requiring further information on water availability and geological hazards. Curry County held the required remand hearing in December 2012, and decided to approve it in January 2013. ORCA argued that approval would be unwise, given the poor quality geological information provided by the applicants for the remand. The fragile, steep slopes of the parcel make it ripe for hazardous activity such as landslides and mudslides, but the applicants’ information was sketchy and dismissive of the dangers. ORCA appealed the County’s remand approval to LUBA again. LUBA remanded the County decision back a second time, especially on grounds of poor, inaccurate geological hazard information.

Is Crook Point Resort a good idea for Curry County? Such a resort will heavily impact one of the most important, unique and undamaged chunks of wildlife habitat and seabird nesting habitat on the whole coast, a crown jewel in Curry County’s ecotourism opportunities. Crook Point Resort is proposed for land that is also the site of a historic pioneer trail, and in an area known to be rich with cultural artifacts of Native peoples.

The proposed Crook Point Resort is in an isolated area far from major towns or road networks, and time-consuming to reach. There is certainly a possibility that the Resort will not pan out financially (as has happened to large resorts in central Oregon), and Curry County could be left with various costs, upkeep and maintenance. However, the applicants’ required economic study does not provide any analysis of potential impacts of the resort, much less the possibility of financial failure and its consequences to the County’s taxpayers. Read a Report about this problem in central Oregon.

The resort may drain resources from Curry County’s slender budget that are needed for existing capital improvement and infrastructure needs — money Curry County cannot afford to divert to other projects. The applicants have not clearly demonstrated they have adequate solutions for either sewer needs or water supply for both domestic and irrigation purposes, and infrastructure costs to the County could end up being a major problem if the resort is not financially successful.

Large resorts in central Oregon often hire the high-paying jobs from outside the area; those jobs remaining are lower-paid service jobs. Is this the future Curry County would like for its residents? This is a policy question that the hearings and testimony have not really addressed. After two rounds of litigation at LUBA, one thing is clear: this part of the coast is so fragile geologically that development is fraught with dangers, which the applicants have sought to dismiss or minimize. This is not good policy; the history of coastal development is filled with examples of disasters that occurred because coastal geology was disregarded. Perhaps it is time for all parties to sit down and consider alternative solutions for this beautiful piece of ranch land cherished by so many, from its owners to visitors enjoying nearby conserved lands.

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