Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort’s revised plan for a park and ride includes the reduction of parking spaces from 249 to 179. Originally, the resort also planned to remove most of the 37 trees on the property to make way for the spaces, but has since reduced that number to 10 trees.
As of Friday, August 8, 2014
Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort plans to reduce the scope of a park and ride planned for Mount Hood after residents and adjacent property owners raised concerns over the project’s potential impact.
The new plan for the gravel park and ride, which would be located on Corner Loop Road between Highway 35 and Cooper Spur Road, reduces the number of parking spaces from 249 to 179. Dave Tragethon, executive director of social media and public relations for the resort, also reported Meadows was originally going to remove most of the 37 trees on the property to make way for the parking lot, but is now going to remove 10 trees — two of which, Tragethon said, were either dead or a hazard.
Meadows says it needs the park and ride to accommodate the growing number of skiers and snowboarders flocking to the resort, particularly on peak days when the lots are full, as well as for their employees. In a letter to the editor printed in this current edition (see page A4), Meadows characterized the park and ride as beneficial to reducing congestion on Hwy. 35 and at Sno-Parks as well carbon emissions.
Not everyone is as rosy about the park and ride as Meadows is, however. Libby Rossknecht, who owns the Mt. Hood Guest House that is adjacent to the proposed park and ride, is worried about how the lot could impact her vacation rental business, whether it’s noise from the buses that would take skiers and snowboarders up to the mountain or traffic congestion from cars turning off Hwy. 35 to get into the lot. She also believes the park and ride is out of character with the area and stated in an email that she feared the community of Mount Hood “will be forever just a pit stop” if the park and ride were built.
Equally onerous to Rossknecht is that she wasn’t notified by the county about the proposal. The park and ride application was approved by the Hood River County Planning Department on June 23 without public notification, other than to affected agencies. The county’s principal planner, Eric Walker, explained in a previous story that the parking lot is an outright allowed use due to the commercial zoning of the parcel and did not require a public hearing or public notification.
Rossknecht however, believed the county erred in its decision and filed a notice of intent to appeal with the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA), stating the county should have provided notice to property owners within 250 feet of the project site.
Walker explained in an email that there was a discrepancy in the language of the ordinance the caused the difference in opinion.
“In a nutshell, there is a section of the zoning ordinance (Section 72.15) that identifies ‘land use permits (residential, commercial, industrial)’ as an administrative action, which typically requires public notification, etc.,” he said. “However, in the section of the ordinance that is specific to commercial and industrial land use permits (Section 64.25), it does not require public notification and, in fact, only requires agency notification when deemed necessary by the Planning Director. As a matter of practice, though, the Planning Department always mails notice of commercial and industrial land use permits to affected agencies, but not to adjacent property owners.”
Walker said the county “informed Meadows of the discrepancy” in the zoning ordinance and Meadows subsequently requested the county rescind its previous decision and process the revised application as an administrative action, which requires property owners within 250 feet of the perimeter of the property in question to be notified.
Walker added a public notice will be published in the News and the public will be given an opportunity to comment. Anyone who provides public comments will be provided a copy of the final decision and given an opportunity to appeal. However, Walker noted that “no public hearing will occur unless an appeal of the decision is received.”
Rossknecht called the new developments with Meadows’ application “certainly some changes in the right direction,” but was still concerned about traffic in the area, particularly from those exiting Hwy. 35 on Cooper Spur Road. She suggested a crosswalk be put in near the Mt. Hood Country Store and traffic turning from Hwy. 35 to Cooper Spur Road be slowed down to 25 m.p.h. Rossknecht says she has written to the Oregon Department of Transportation, asking they look into these issues.
Tragethon said if planning approved the revised application in time, Meadows still plans on constructing the park and ride in the coming months and using it for the upcoming winter recreation season.