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Proposal would add 103 RV parking spaces to the nine-hole golf course, which closed after similar attempt in 2018.

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - The golf course's restaurant would undergo renovations under OHM Equity Partners' proposal.Developers have once again picked up plans to convert a portion of the former St. Helens Golf Course to an RV park.

OHM Equity Partners plans to add a 103-space private recreational vehicle park and campground and reopen as the Ironwood Golf Course and RV Park.

The golf course, located in Warren, closed in 2018 after abandoning an attempt to build an RV park.

The 77-acre property is still owned by Seok Ju Chung, who purchased it in 2007, county records show.

In March 2018, after receiving what he characterized as a negative staff report from county planning officials, Chung withdrew his application to build 43 RV spaces and announced that the golf course would close in September of that year.

Now Scappoose-based developer OHM Equity Partners, owned by Joe Kessi, is proposing a larger RV park.

The proposed RV parking spots would take up roughly 15 acres on the south side of the property, surrounding the current clubhouse and golf course parking.

"Our proposal includes many changes and improvements to the golf course as a whole, but the addition of a campground/RV area provides an additional revenue stream for the property," OHM wrote in the site design review application to Columbia County. "The new private campground/RV along with the re-design and elevation of the property will create a yearlong, sustainable business model."

"An RV campground provides additional cash flow stabilizing the property while allowing for it to be maintained to a higher standard. This additional revenue allows the property to be renovated and elevated, making it a destination campground," OHM wrote.

In 2018, county planning staff recommended the planning commission reject Chung's application, because the proposed RV park did not "appear to be designed in ways that benefit the existing golf course's year-round recreational activities for county residents and tourists," the staff report stated.COURTESY PHOTO: OREGON STATEWIDE IMAGERY PROGRAM - A 2018 aerial view shows the St. Helens Golf Course property outlined in blue.

Columbia County planner Deborah Jacobs said at the time that the proposal "was resembling a residential use, not a recreational use."

Some RV parks limit how long a guest can stay. The Ironwood application does not say if there would be stay limits.

OHM wasn't involved in the 2018 application, but Kessi suggested the RV park will be designed and maintained to a higher standard than the budget RV parks that more often become long-term residences.

In addition to golfers, Kessi said the RV park would draw in visitors for local fishing and kayaking.

The nine-hole golf course first opened in 1959. The property includes a clubhouse, restaurant, bar and banquet hall, all of which "will be upgraded to attract and make people feel comfortable," the application from OHM stated.

Kessi said Ironwood "isn't just another project for me." He originally tried to buy the property before it sold to Chung more than a decade ago, Kessi said.

Chung purchased the property for $1.7 million, according to county property records.PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Overgrown grasses conceal the sign for the St. Helens Golf Course on Hazen Road.

Kessi declined to give an estimate on the cost of purchasing the property, upgrading the golf course and developing the RV park, but the added or expanded infrastructure for sewer, water, stormwater and power to accommodate the RV park will be expensive.

When he initially looked at purchasing the golf course, Kessi wanted to focus on the golf course and add a few RV spots. But looking at the numbers, he realized a larger RV park would be necessary to cover the high costs of maintaining a golf course.

Brad Hendrickson, who has owned the St. Helens Marina for 26 years, will manage Ironwood.

"We've got 27 RV spaces at the marina, so that's where I'm coming from. It would definitely be a nice addition out there at the golf course," Hendrickson said.

The Columbia County planning commission is scheduled to review the application on July 18. A staff report was not yet available as of press time.


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