The World Environment STOCK

NORTH BEND — The North Bend City Council has voted in agreement with the findings of a hearings officer on an appeal of a permit to allow close to a mile of pipeline underneath the city of North Bend for the Jordan Cove Energy Project.

The permit, approved by the North Bend Planning Commission and now upheld by the City Council at its Tuesday meeting, allows for the JCEP to develop an approximately 0.92-mile alignment of the Pacific Connector Gas Pipeline within the city of North Bend.

In its application, the JCEP proposes using horizontal directional drilling, conventional boring and trenching to locate the pipeline in the city.

Citizens for Renewables appealed the North Bend Planning Commission’s decision to allow the pipeline alignment. The environmental group's concerns involved zoning districts and their use classifications, among others. However, the hearings officer found the project could be interpreted as a “utility, low intensity,” under the Coos Bay Estuary Management plan even though it serves a private use. According to the hearings officer's report, if interpreted as a utility, the alignment does meet use requirements for the CBEMP.

One aspect of the appeal was its cost. Aside from the group Citizens for Renewables, the other named appellant in this case was Jody McCafree. The environmental group and McCafree submitted the appeal with the intent of paying the city's normal fees associated with a land use appeal, but were not aware of the extreme costs in this particular case.

McCafree provided The World with an invoice that states printing costs alone of the record were around $2,350. According to the city, the appeal would cost another $27,000 to hire a hearings officer to review the record.

There is still some confusion as to who will be paying the costs of the appeal, as a case like this is out of the ordinary. Last week, City Administrator Terence O’Connor told The World that since the city did not convey to the appellant the extra costs that would be associated with the appeal, the city would pay the costs of printing and for the hearings officer.

At Tuesday’s meeting, McCafree was uncertain whether she would have to shoulder the costs for the appeal, as the city has not mentioned to her it would pay for the process. In response, O’Connor asked the council to discuss who is responsible for the costs at the next City Council meeting.

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Nicholas A. Johnson can be reached at 541-266-6049, or by email at nicholas.johnson@theworldlink.com.