By RAELYNN RICARTE
News staff writer
December 9, 2006
Mt. Hood Meadows Oregon LLC has filed Measure 37 claims for a total of 890 acres in the southern sector of the county — resource lands that a conservation group has fought for years to protect.
The filing heralds the revival of a 30-year battle if a federal land exchange is not approved. Meadows has asked for a restored right to develop 854 home sites on 820 acres in the Cooper Spur area. In addition, the company wants to divide another 70 acres near Parkdale into 84 lots.
“We filed these claims to protect our interests. If this trade does not go through we plan to pursue partnerships with other Measure 37 landowners in the area for further development,” said Dave Riley, president of Meadows.
“If the trade does go through, we are out of business in that part of the valley. This deal is a whole lot more than just one land exchange.”
The terms of the settlement between Meadows and Hood River Valley Residents Committee requires the company to forego further development in the upper valley. In exchange the HRVRC will not oppose Meadows’ plans to build condominiums near Government Camp.
“Nobody wants to see the north side (of Mount Hood), a backcountry gem and key watershed, trashed with short-sighted development,” said Ralph Bloemers, HRVRC’s attorney.
On the legislative table is a proposal for Meadows to trade 769 acres of its forested Cooper Spur holdings for 120 acres in the heavily developed section of national forest. In July the House signed off on the exchange but a Senate companion bill has stalled as controversy swirls around the validity of the land appraisals.
A retired U.S. Forest Service administrator contends that the Clackamas County property should have been assigned a higher value. However, the Cooper Spur Wild and Free Coalition has commissioned a study showing $11-$16 million of additional economic value should be added to the appraisal of Cooper Spur lands because of the increased resource protection.