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Nichols Landing appeal hearing to be continued

Brent Foster, left, attorney for Friends of the Hood River Waterfront and Steve Naito, counsel for Naito Development LLC, have a discussion during a break in Monday night’s public hearing held to address an appeal filed by Friends against the proposed Nichols Landing development.

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea.
Brent Foster, left, attorney for Friends of the Hood River Waterfront and Steve Naito, counsel for Naito Development LLC, have a discussion during a break in Monday night’s public hearing held to address an appeal filed by Friends against the proposed Nichols Landing development.

A public hearing held Monday night regarding an appeal filed against the Nichols Landing project has been continued until early next month due to new evidence submitted on the record.

During their regular meeting, city councilors made the decision to continue the hearing until Sept. 8 at the advice of City Attorney Dan Kearns, upon receiving new evidence from project applicants, Naito Development LLC, a Portland developing firm that is proposing to construct an 88-room hotel and a 20,000-square-foot commercial building at the south end of the Nichols Boat Basin in Hood River.

Friends of the Hood River Waterfront, a local citizen group, has filed two appeals relating to the Nichols Landing development. The first appeal challenges the Hood River Planning Commission’s response last month to a remand that was handed down late last year from the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals regarding the project. The second challenges the city’s issuance of a floodplain development permit for the project that was also approved by the planning commission in July. In the appeal, Brent Foster, attorney for Friends, claims the city made several errors with both the response to the remand as well as the floodplain development permit.

The city placed both appeals on the agenda for the Aug. 11 city council meeting, but both items were postponed at the request of Naito Development, who asked the city for more time “to respond to certain matters raised by opponents.” City council members honored the request and the appeals were bumped to the city council’s Aug. 25 meeting.

However, the hearing during Monday’s council meeting never truly got underway. Kearns advised that since Naito Development had submitted new evidence into the record — what that evidence was, exactly, did not make into that night’s discussion — and because “opponents have the right to review and respond to it,” and presumably, hadn’t had a chance to yet, he recommended council continue the hearing and leave the record open.

“You can’t decide this tonight,” Kearns noted.

Naito Development and Friends of the Hood River Waterfront each had the opportunity to offer testimony Monday night, but both deferred until the next meeting.

Instead of addressing the issues contained in the appeals, both parties and city officials discussed at length the logistics of leaving the record open for additional evidence as well as the procedures for the next hearing. It was agreed that the record would be left open until Sept. 2 at noon for both parties to submit evidence and arguments. After that point, both parties have until Sept. 5 at 5 p.m. to respond only to evidence that was submitted between Aug. 25 and Sept. 2 at noon.

During the hearing, parties will not be allowed to submit new evidence, but are allowed to give their summary concluding argument based on the existing record. Both applicants will each have a chance to rebut each other’s testimony, with the applicant having the right of final rebuttal, and then council will close the record, deliberate, and may reach a decision.

The hearing will occur during the next council meeting on Monday, Sept. 8 at 6 p.m.

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