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Columbia County planning staff say application for 103-space RV park on golf course site hasn't addressed concerns.

PMG PHOTO: ANNA DEL SAVIO - The sign for the now-closed St. Helens Golf Course is nearly concealed by overgrown grasses in June 2022.Columbia County planning staff have recommended that the planning commission reject a bid to add a 103-space RV park to a Warren golf course.

OHM Equity Partners seeks to add a 103-space RV park to the former St. Helens Golf Course, a nine-hole course that has not operated since 2018. The 77-acre property would still include a nine-hole course and operate at Ironwood Golf Course and RV Park.

But in a staff report, county planning staff said OHM Equity Partners "has not shown that the proposed 103 space RV park can be supported by the existing or proposed facilities" and "has not addressed any of the neighbor's concerns of incompatibility with the adjacent uses."

The planning commission's review of the application was originally scheduled for July 18 but has now been delayed twice, at the request of the developer. The hearing is now scheduled for Oct. 3.

On Aug. 4, OHM Equity Partners requested that the hearing be postponed again and waived the 150-day rule, which requires that the county make a final decision within 150 days of an application being deemed complete.

Joe Kessi, owner of OHM Equity Partners, said his company requested the delays because "we were waiting on some crucial impact studies."

Kessi said he was still waiting on the results of one more study as of Wednesday, Aug. 24.

Neighbors have voiced opposition to the increased traffic and noise that an RV park would bring. Residents attended the Aug. 15 meeting, but since the hearing was continued to Oct. 3, they were not permitted to make comments until that meeting.

The golf course's previous owner had made a similar attempt to develop an RV park in 2018. After county planning staff recommended the planning commission deny the proposal, Seok Ju Chung withdrew his application and soon closed the golf course.

Kessi previously said the addition of an RV park would bring in revenue to make the operation profitable, despite the high costs of maintaining a golf course.

The staff report said that "general neighbor concerns include, but are not limited to; added traffic on Hazen Road, setbacks, lack of septic approval, lack of water source, concerns that the RV park will prohibit the reopening of the golf course, lack of park rules that would address things like duration of stay, quiet hours, types of RV's, and enforcement, incompatibility with surrounding area, increase in public services of fire, police, and EMT, and general safety concerns."

The application did not adequately show the proposed development "can be supported by the existing potable water, onsite sewage disposal system, or the public transportation system" and didn't show that the planned improvements would meet the development's demand on infrastructure.

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