HRVPRD withdraws RC flyer field application

A public hearing regarding a proposal to construct facilities for a radio control flyer field at Barrett Park has been canceled after the proposal applicant, Hood River Valley Parks and Recreation, decided to withdraw the application.

The hearing, which was scheduled for the evening of June 11, was to consider an appeal by the Hood River Valley Residents Committee, a local land use watchdog group, that challenged certain features of the facilities, particularly the bathrooms planned for the park, which they argued were in violation of a state statute that does not allow structures to be placed on permanent foundations at RC flyer fields on land that is zoned exclusive farm use, such as Barrett Park.

HRVRC also challenged that the decision to award the land use permit should have been processed as a land use decision, not a ministerial one. Last month, HRVRC filed an intent to appeal the application to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA).

Last week in a letter to the Hood River County Planning Department, HRVPRD Director Lori Stirn formally withdrew the application, noting that “the project scope has changed to the point where it warrants withdrawing this permit and reapplying with a revised plan.”

HRVPRD’s original application called for a 40-foot-wide by 300-foot-long grass or geo-textile fabric runway; a 6-foot high by approximately 50-foot-long wire safety fence parallel to the runway; a 19-foot by 10-foot, 3-inch, precast concrete restroom; a 10-foot by 30-foot “shade shelter”; four 4-foot by 8-foot tables with bench seating; a small informational sign; a grass parking area; and perimeter landscaping.

Last month, HRVRPD’s board of directors voted to redirect all monies from a $494,000 state grant that would have been spent at Barrett Park to another to-be-determined facility where ball fields could be developed. Directors also voted to revise the RC flyer field application and remove certain features of the proposal, particularly the bathrooms, where grant money would have been used.

However, HRVPRD Assistant Director Scott Baker said HRVRC had concerns that “an approval was still an approval and we could change our minds next week” about the bathrooms, so HRVPRD asked that the county revoke the land use permit and put the issue to bed — at least for the time being.

Baker said he doesn’t know whether HRVPRD will indeed end up reapplying to construct the facilities. For one, Baker said HRVPRD typically tries to match grant funds with monies from system development charges when developing recreational facilities to “get the most bang for the buck.” With the grant money out of the picture now, Baker said the application had become less of a priority.

Baker added that some features of the RC flyer facilties, such as a shade shelter, could be constructed without a land use permit. Baker said HRVPRD had been working with the county to determine what features would not require a permit.

The point may be moot anyway, as some versions of the features — the runway, the picnic tables — have already existed at the site for some time and have been used by the RC flyers. A porta potty and a windsock are also on the site.

Baker said in an email that according to HRVPRD’s land use attorney, Michael Robinson, “no new structures are being proposed so no permit is required by HR County Planning.” He added that HRVPRD would “keep a close eye on improvements, to make sure they are consistent with the statute.”

“It’s nothing substantially different than what we’ve been doing out there than the past two years, other than the bathrooms,” Baker said of the original proposal.

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