Dee Tour Appeals Fails Due to Deadlock
HRVRC’s appeal of Dee Tour, a proposed concert venue and amphitheater at the site of the old Dee Mill, was held before the Hood River County Planning Commission on December 10. The Planning Commission needs 4 affirmative votes to reach a decision but because only 5 of the 7 members were in attendance and with the votes 3-2, our appeal failed (lacking 4 votes, the appeal fails and reverts back to the prior staff decision). We wish had had the opportunity to make our case before the full commission as we feel we would have had a good chance of prevailing. We thank the Dee area locals who came out to the hearing to watch or testify as well as those that submitted written testimony on the project.
While HRVRC ultimately decided not to further appeal the decision to the Board of Commissions, we continue to have specific concerns about impacts the project will have on traffic and stormwater runoff from the large parking lot into the Hood River. Additionally, this project and several others have brought attention to contradictory and out-dated language in the County’s zoning code. Getting the code updated and procedures clarified is a high priority for HRVRC and we will be working diligently with the County over the next several months to make needed changes.
HRVRC Appeals Dee Tour to Allow more Public Input
The Hood River Valley Residents Committee filed to appeal the County’s land-use approval for DeeTour, a proposed concert venue, amphitheater and event site planned at the old Dee mill. The appeal hearing before the Planning Commission will be held at 7 pm on December 10 at 601 State Street. Anyone is welcome to attend and submit written or oral testimony on the project.
We are not taking the position that the project should be denied, but rather that input from the public is an essential part of wise planning and Oregon’s land-use system. Originally, the County processed this application “ministerially” under a part of the code which does not include public participation. There was a not an announced public comment period for the project nor were neighbors given notice of what was proposed. Despite that, over 80 community members submitted written comments on the project. All but a handful were either opposed or had concerns that they wanted the county to address regarding traffic, noise, impacts to the East Fork of the Hood River or quality of life issues. We polled many of these folks to ask them if they still had concerns after the applicant significantly reduced the size of the venue. The overwhelming majority told us they would appreciate having a Planning Commission hearing because there were still unanswered questions about the impacts of the project and concerns that were not fully addressed by the conditions the County placed on it.
The concert venue represents a very big change for the rural neighborhood of Dee. It’s a big enough change and a big enough project that it deserves to be analyzed carefully and the public should be included. Does the project negatively impact the surrounding area? Can the impacts be mitigated and how? Those are the sorts of questions that will be asked and addressed at a Planning Commission hearing. Along with taking pro or con positions on specific development projects, part of HRVRC’s mission is uphold Oregon’s statewide Planning Goals, including Goal One: Citizen Involvement which requires that citizens have the opportunity to be involved in all phases of the planning process.
Dee Tour Scales Back
As reported in the Hood River News (June 10), the DeeTour proposal has been substantially scaled down from its initial size intended for crowds of up to 5,000 people for music events at the former Dee Mill Site. The number of parking spaces has been reduced from 3,095 to 437 spaces. Likewise, the concert pavilion has been reduced from 8,589 square feet to 2,250 square feet. After concerns about traffic, safety and noise from public agencies, particularly ODOT and ODOT Rail Division, as well as a flurry of comments from the general community, developer Jason Taylor submitted a revised proposal which will focus on smaller gatherings like weddings, brewfests and corporate events. HRVRC submitted New DeeTour Comments to the County on the amended application, the County will likely have a decision on the project by August.