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The county planning commission rejected the application after the golf course property sale fell apart.

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - Overgrown grasses conceal the sign for the St. Helens Golf Course on Hazen Road.A 103-space RV park won't be taking over a Warren golf course after all.

The Columbia County planning commission rejected an application to add an RV park to the former St. Helens Golf Course after the developer withdrew from plans to purchase the property.

The county's planning department had recommended that the planning commission reject the application back in July. The planning commission hearing had been set for that month, but the developer, OHM Equity Partners, requested delays twice.

Joe Kessi, chief executive officer of OHM Equity Partners and a Columbia County local, said in August that he requested the extensions "because we were waiting on some crucial impact studies" for the proposed Ironwood Golf Course and RV Park.

But in mid-September, OHM and the current property owner, Seok Ju Chung, signed a termination agreement, canceling the plans to sell the property.

Kessi did not respond to questions about who initiated the termination agreement.

Based on the termination agreement, the planning commission voted to reject OHM's application.

"Without any evidence to show that the applicant in this design review is authorized to develop … this property and pursue land use approvals on the subject property, staff finds that the county is unable to approve this application," Columbia County planning manager Hayden Richardson said at the planning commission's Tuesday, Oct. 3, meeting.

The decision has been celebrated by some Warren residents, who were concerned about the burden the development would put on local roads and other infrastructure.

The initial county staff report had recommended rejecting the proposal on similar grounds, but the planning commission's decision was ultimately a simple one after the sale being called off.

The 77-acre golf course property is located on Hazen Road in Warren. It hasn't operated since 2018, when Chung shut down the course after a similar ordeal: County planning staff recommended the planning commission reject an application to add an RV park to the golf course.

John Zavage, a neighbor of the golf course property, said he was happy with the planning commission's vote, but he's concerned that the proposal could be revived once again later on.

"I also would just like to go on record as saying if the contract is reinstated … that there are more reasons to deny the proposal than just termination of the property (sale)," Zavage told the planning commission.

Those reasons included those "that were in the original staff report in July, all of the criteria that were not met, primarily being inconsistent with the character of the area, and also personal concerns for the health and safety of my own family and property," Zavage said.

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