Back in January, the News ran a story on “DeeTour:” a 3,000- to 5,000-person concert amphitheater proposed for construction on the old mill site in Dee located near the intersection of Dee Highway and Lost Lake Road.
The News received a flurry of calls, emails, Facebook messages, visits, and letters to the editor about the proposal. Some were in support of the project, but a significant number of readers were concerned over noise and traffic impacts the venue could have on the quiet community of Dee. A poll on the News website indicated that 108 people were in favor of the proposal, 117 were not, and four did not care.
Jason Taylor, a Hood River native who owns Lost Lake Resort and the developer of DeeTour, said that as a result, he has amended his application to the Hood River County Planning Department and significantly scaled back the scope of the project.
“Essentially, we listened to the public and we made some tough decisions internally and eliminated most of the parking,” he explained.
Originally, DeeTour planned to have a total of 3,095 parking spaces on the property, which straddles the east and west banks of the East Fork of the Hood River. Taylor said the new proposal calls for 437 parking spots as well as a reduction in size of the stage, which was originally planned to be 8,500 square feet.
The decrease in parking is designed to decrease the amount of traffic as well as the number of people attending events at the venue. Readers raised concerns earlier this year over the possibility that the venue might cause traffic backups on Lost Lake Road and Dee Highway, which are both two-lane roads.
In an email last week to Eric Walker, principal planner at county planning, Taylor said that in light of the revisions to the project, he felt that “traffic circulation was no longer an issue. Additionally, we feel the project would not cause a dangerous intersection and congestion per section 31.60(A),” of the county zoning ordinance.
Taylor also mentioned in the email that the rail division of the Oregon Department of Transportation had concerns over traffic queues and a new grade crossing over the Mount Hood Railroad — which runs right by the venue — proposed in the original DeeTour design. He reported plans for the grade crossing had been scrapped and that ODOT’s concerns over queuing should no longer be an issue “due to our revised parking assumptions.”
With the reduction in size, Taylor told the News that the focus of DeeTour had shifted as well, which was originally geared toward booking big-name music acts. In a previous story, Taylor had mentioned trying to book the venue with artists such as James Taylor and Mumford and Sons.
“We’ve retooled entirely,” Taylor noted. “We’re looking for smaller events: corporate events, weddings, and brewfests.”
Taylor said the venue could also be used for family reunions or events like Movies in the Park, but added that he was “not exactly sure,” if that would end up being the case. He said hosting local food carts on site was still a key component of the plan and expected the DeeTour venue would create five full-time positions and a few dozen seasonal jobs.
Though the revised DeeTour proposal isn’t as grand as Taylor’s original vision, he said that he’s still “super excited” about the prospect of bringing something back to the old mill site.
“We’ll spend less and we’ll generate less, but build something that’s still special,” Taylor said.
With the revised plans, the county will start over the review process of DeeTour, which like the last review, does not require a public hearing, according to Walker.
“Even though the overall size and scope of the applicant’s current proposal has been reduced, we plan to notify all affected agencies again for their input,” he explained in an email. “The review, however, will be processed as a ministerial action, just like any other commercial land use permit. It will likely take a month and a half to two months to complete our review.”