BANDON – The Planning Commission voted to recommended to the City Council that a request not be approved for a zone code text amendment in the city’s controlled development zone to allow plans to proceed for a new hotel near Coquille Point.
However, the recommendation is now a moot point that won't be discussed at the City Council level.
Chris Keiser, agent and attorney for Steere Bandon LLC, announced Monday through local attorney Robert Miller, that they have withdrawn their request for the amendment.
In the statement, Keiser thanked City Planning Director John McLaughlin for reviewing the request.
"We appreciated the feedback from our community members and from the Bandon Planning Commission," the statement read. "We are listening, and we hereby withdraw our current application. We intend to re-submit a new application very soon, which will not ask for any additional height allowance. We will be receptive to any interest from the city and USF&W regarding public restrooms, interpretive exhibits, or other public amenities.
"We love Bandon, and our wish, then, as now, is to make a proposal which will have a positive impact on our community," the statement concluded.
The commission deliberated June 28 during a continued public hearing on the proposed amendment, which was requested by Steere Bandon Associates.
Mike Keiser, owner of Bandon Dunes Golf Resort, is also a partner in Steere Bandon.
Steere Bandon hoped to gain approval for the amendment to allow them to proceed with submitting plans for a Conditional Use Permit to build a new hotel adjacent to the Coquille Point Unit of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge.
The proposed new Bandon Beach Hotel was to include accommodations with 48 rooms and a public lobby area, a contact station owned and operated by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, public restrooms and a high end café.
The Bandon Beach Motel, already located on the property at 1090 Oregon Ave., would be torn down to build the proposed new hotel.
The Planning Commission voted 6-1 to not recommend the zone code text amendment, with Commissioner Daniel Graham opposed. Chairman David Kimes and Commissioners Harv Schubothe, Blythe Tiffany, Sheryl Bremmer, Gerald Slothhower and Don Starbuck voted in favor.
The meeting also was the last for both Graham and Schubothe, who have resigned. Both served on the commission for several years.
In turn, each commissioner, other than Graham, gave his or her reason for feeling they could not approve the request.
Kimes gave an alternative recommendation that included a height limit of 32 feet plus other conditions that included ADA sidewalks, a crosswalk and a bike/walking path on Beach Loop Drive from the hotel to Face Rock viewpoint. He said he’d only approve the request if those conditions were incorporated into the applicant’s application, which would come after the zone amendment.
“There’s a big umbrella of fairness here,” Bremmer said. “Is it fair to just allow one group of properties to not adhere (to the restrictions in that area)? If we’re going to change it, we should change it for everybody.”
Bremmer said she couldn’t determine if the hotel would be the best use of property in the CD-1 zone because she hasn’t seen actual plans other than conceptual drawings. The CD-1 zone was created in part to protect ocean view corridors and minimize impacts on wildlife and environmentally sensitive areas.
Bremmer expressed concerns about the proposed hotel being too tall for the property and how that could disrupt paths of migratory birds, as well as how the hotel would benefit Bandon in general.
She produced a thick binder that included all the testimony submitted about the request. Out of 79 people who submitted written testimony, 19 letters supported the project, six were inconclusive and 54 were from people against the project.
“That’s a majority,” Bremmer said.
“I’m not here for me, I’m here for the people who have taken the time to talk and speak,” Bremmer added. “With all the talent this applicant has shown, they can use it in a way that adheres to the code. I’d like to see the applicant go back and try to find out how to use this property within the existing code.”
Other commissioners agreed with Bremmer’s sentiments.
“I do believe this will be good for the community and would be of the highest quality and a step above what’s there,” Schubothe said. “Sheryl has raised some important points and Paul Fisher did too about planning by exception” (Fisher spoke during public comment about how the commission should consider revising the city’s Comprehensive Plan before making changes to various codes or areas of town).
“We need to decide if this is a look we want and if so, then why not all the properties,” Schubothe said. “If we want to make changes to the Comprehensive Plan, we don’t do it property by property.”
Tiffany said she didn’t think it was up to the commission to come up with a proposal for the applicant.
“I don’t think it fits the code,” Tiffany said of the proposed hotel. “You would be doing violence to the code just to put it in there. But whether it benefits the community, that’s not the Planning Commission’s to consider. It’s also not our function to see that (the applicant) makes money. I’m very impressed with the applicants … but I just can’t vote for this to happen.”
Slothhower said his main objection was the height as well as allowing one property an exception.
“If you want to amend the CD-1 zone, then OK, but to do it for one, it’s just not right,” Slothower said. “The other things don’t bother me, but it’s the height that really gets me.”
Starbuck agreed. He said he walks a lot and tried to envision a 45-foot tall building near the bluff. He felt people would be able to see it from the beach as far away as the South Jetty.
It’s intrusive to the whole environment,” he said. “There’s a reason this (area was limited) to 24 feet and I think we should follow it.”
Graham said he also had concerns about the fairness of changing the zone just for that property and agreed that the Comprehensive Plan should be revised. But he listed several reasons why he supported the zone change and the hotel concept.
“It’s like telling them how to spend their money,” Graham said of the alternative proposals that have been put forth. “What we have is someone willing to invest in our town. When we theorize on what they should build I have an issue with that. I think they tried to make this a city project, not a developer project and not everyone does that.”
Graham said the applicant could build three 24-foot hotels on the lots owned by Keiser in that area rather than one large hotel. The height issue should be addressed when the conditional use permit is submitted, he said.