There have been so many people at the first two hearings who have not yet gotten a chance to speak, that another hearing is scheduled before the Hood River Planning Commission for Wed., Feb., 5th, 7:30 p.m. at the Hood River Middle School again. As it was, each night the hearings went on until 11 p.m. (see Calendar & Story for more info.)
After several presenters with background information, testimony began both on 1/22 & 1/23. Personal best-estimates say that 3/4's of the testifiers both nights were OPPOSED to this resort---for many various reasons.
Folks spoke about loss of pristine habitat including wildlife corridors, further watershed degradation, minimum wage jobs at resorts and generally the continued loss of quality of life because of corporate interests. People were heard talking about Hood River possibly "caving in" to the quick-fix of a development instead of looking at a long-range economic plan. Plus, how often is there the kind of snow and environment that places like Aspen, Vali, etc., attract?
The following are key issues, talking points and background for the public about this issue. You are STRONGLY ENCOURAGED TO COME TO THE NEXT HEARING if you do not want to see any more "hardware" and "rubbish" on Mt. Hood.
Proposed Destination Resort Zoning Ordinance
Hood River County is proposing a destination resort zoning ordinance. The ordinance will include a map showing where a new DR zone could potentially allow a destination resort. The ordinance provides direction to the County Planning Commission, Staff and Board of County Commissioners on how the new zoning category will protect and enhance economic, natural, historic, scenic, farm and forest and other resources. The County Planning Commission is asking citizens and groups for input to make improvements to the proposal.
While there are some good aspects, the ordinance and map as proposed are woefully inadequate. Due to major omissions the ordinance in its current form will not protect significant County resources we all hold dear. The map also contains inaccuracies and omissions. Resorts approved under the current ordinance could harm the ailing economy and accelerate the slide to becoming primarily service-sector based.
*Mt. Hood National Forest public lands should not be considered in the County zoning analysis. Too much of Mt. Hood NF is already used for private development. County zoning cannot apply to federal lands. Showing zoning on *National Forest lands would be used later as a rationale to exchange federal lands to a private developer.
*The proposed ordinance does not protect farm and forest lands. The ordinance and mapping need to be strengthened to conserve and enhance agriculture, the County's number one industry, and forest lands.
*The map showing eligible areas for the proposed destination resort zone contains major errors that need correction, particularly with delineation of farms. This is critical, as the map currently drawn does not protect all significant farmland.
*The 3-mile buffer between a concentration of high value farm land and destination resorts is too small to protect farms and farming areas from the negative impacts of destination resorts. These negative impacts include traffic, incompatible uses, increased land values due to speculation, increased farming costs and increased cost of services. The Planning Commission should make every effort to include all farms in the "concentration of farms" to make the 3 mile buffer reach as far away as possible from farming areas.
*The map is particularly inaccurate in the south, where a different process was used to create it than for any other part, and where Mt. Hood Meadows is proposing to apply for a destination resort. Mapping should be done consistently across the County.
*Mapping inaccuracies should be closely studied and explained before any proposal to adopt the map is considered.
*The ordinance needs revision to protect domestic watersheds such as the Crystal Springs District.
*Destination resorts must be compatible with adjacent land uses, especially farm and forest lands. The ordinance does not now provide for this.
*Historic resource settings, such as the Tilly Jane and Cloud Cap Historic District must be protected.
*Lands on adjacent tracts must not be used for facilities connected to or supporting the destination resort. That violates the Oregon planning statutes and would promote sprawl on lands not intended for destination resorts, such as farm or forest areas.
*Economic costs to the County, State agencies and farming and forestry operations must be analyzed, disclosed and covered by the destination resort developers. Currently the ordinance only provides for analyzing the economic impacts with no requirement to cover the costs.
*Low-wage jobs, over-growth and development...