Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Metolius Development Rights, and Wrongs

State officials have come up with a plan that would keep destination resorts away from the Metolius, and the pro-resort forces are, predictably, fuming and

Posted By on Wed, Feb 25, 2009 at 1:06 PM

State officials have come up with a plan that would keep destination resorts away from the Metolius, and the pro-resort forces are, predictably, fuming and sputtering.

The rules now being backed by the state Land Conservation and Development Commission would block both a 640-acre "eco-resort" that Dutch Pacific Resources LLC wants to build within the Metolius Basin and a 2,500-unit monstrosity that Ponderosa Land & Cattle Co. proposed to build on the fringe of the basin.

As a sort of consolation prize the DLCD is offering to let the developers build resorts on land near Round Butte, although they'd have to be a lot smaller than the ones they've proposed - 650 units for Ponderosa's and 350 for Dutch Pacific's. This offer apparently also is meant to appease Jefferson County, which presently has no destination resorts and would dearly love some.

The Bulletin editorial page - which has written five editorials on the Metolius issue already this year, among other things comparing Gov. Ted Kulongoksi to Josef Stalin - was in its usual fine form this morning, claiming Kulongoski was dealing from the bottom of the deck:

"The resort developers would be offered first dibs on land for destination resorts they may not even want near Round Butte, east of Lake Billy Chinook. The resorts would have to be smaller than what might have been allowed in or near the Metolius basin. ...

"Some people will agree with Kulongoski that the Metolius basin deserves better protection. And perhaps they're right. But if the state is going to slash development rights, it shouldn't attempt to weasel out of its moral obligation to compensate affected landowners fairly."

It's that last sentence that The Eye mostly takes issue with. What "rights," exactly, are the resort developers being deprived of? What should they be "compensated" for?

Here's the situation: Dutch Pacific and Ponderosa own forest land near the Metolius. They want to put destinations resorts on it and, hopefully, make a barrel of money. The Jefferson County Commission has obliged by designating the area encompassing their property for destination resort development. But that designation is still under appeal in the courts.

If Dutch Pacific and Ponderosa are not allowed to build their proposed resorts they'll still own the land and still be free to use it for the purpose it's zoned for - growing timber. They won't have "lost" anything except the purely speculative barrel of money they MIGHT have made IF they had been able to build the resorts and IF the resorts had been successful.

If the state has a moral obligation to compensate developers for that, The Eye thinks it also should compensate us for the $80 million we would have won in the Powerball lottery if we had bought a ticket and our numbers had come up.

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