McKenzie River Reflections - Make the McKenzie Connection!

County denies golf course subdivision

 

October 18, 2014



Golf courseWALTERVILLE: A plan that could have led to the redevelopment the McKenzie River Golf Course as a 27-home subdivision was rejected by Lane County last week. The decision by county planning director Matt Laird took into account current zoning, which would have allowed the 59-acre parcel to be divided up as 2-acre lots, but called into question how that could occur in an area identified as a flood zone.

 Besides conforming to the allowable lot sizes, the plan also wouldn’t have conflicted with transportation patterns in the neighborhood and the placement of utilities. The development would have conformed to the county’s riparian code for structural setbacks from Class 1 streams while also proposing the construction of bio swales, “rain gardens,” and other retention devices to collect storm water and allow it to percolate underground before flowing into the river.

Federal guidelines come into play when properties lie within a flood hazard area. According to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) maps, 90 percent of the golf course is in such a zone. Those determinations are tied to issued in the US District Court decisions in 2004 and 2010 calling for the protection of threatened species like Spring Chinook Salmon and Bull Trout – both found in the McKenzie River.

Lane County participates in FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program. Prior to the lawsuit floodplain development permits could require that the finished floor of a dwelling be elevated above the base flood level. There’s been some concern that FEMA is now taking a closer look at how development activities in a flood hazard area might result in a “take” of a listed species, which could be linked to degradation of habitat.

In response to those concerns the application included a site specific study by Terra Science, Inc. Their report concluded that no listed Endangered Species Act species were found on the property. The study was questioned during the county’s review, which noted that, “The study excluded the McKenzie River, Haugen Creek, and their respective 50’ riparian areas as being part of the study area. For example, the study concludes that no Bull Trout or Chinook Salmon are found in the ‘study area’ because the ‘study area’ lacks rivers and streams.”

According to the county’s land use report, during a 100 year flood event, “fish seek to escape the high velocity floodway channel by seeking refuge in the upland floodplain when possible. The present floodplain of the subject property is an open golf course consisting of grassy areas and trees, with small changes in elevation.” A half dozen of the proposed lots are along the bank of the McKenzie River.

In his decision to deny the application, Laird said, “The proposed 27-lot subdivision will result in the degradation of the floodplain fish refuge area by replacing the open space golf course with multiple structures and impervious surfaces,” adding that the county code includes language requiring areas “Of the flood plain … shall be retained in their natural state to the extent practicable to preserve water quality and protect … natural functions.”

The golf course was constructed in 1961 by the Omlid family. Close to 30 lots near the property have been developed over the years - along Madrone Street and Deerhorn Road. Many of those homes are connected to a community water system, although they have their own individual sewer systems.

The new parcels were planned to have their own wells.  Each of the 27 was to be served by individual septic tanks.

The planning denial includes language that faults the application  by saying there wasn’t enough evidence to show” reasonable proof that the lots are capable of supporting septic systems.”

If an appeal is submitted, it must be filed by October 24th.

Image above: Plans for a 27-unit housing project in the Deerhorn area were turned down by Lane County.

 

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