To hear the developers of the Metolian tell it, they're the greenest, tree-huggingest, Earth-lovingest guys who ever walked the planet.
But the tactics the developers and their supporters have been employing look more like a scorched-earth policy. They seem to have adopted William Tecumseh Sherman as their role model instead of John Muir.
A little background: The Metolian is the smaller of two destination resorts originally proposed for development within the Metolius Basin. Responding to the pleas of thousands of lovers of this irreplaceable scenic, recreational and ecological resource, Gov. Ted Kulongoski asked the state Land Conservation and Development Commission to draw up a plan for its protection.
The LCDC plan would allow limited development of both resorts within the basin in exchange for the rights to put larger resorts outside it. Ponderosa Land and Cattle Co., the owner of the land where the bigger resort was supposed to go, apparently feels it can live with that deal. But Dutch Pacific Resources LLC, which wants to develop the Metolian, is fighting the plan because it would be able to build only two residences in the basin if a site can be found elsewhere for its "eco-resort."
Nothing wrong with fighting for what you want; that's the nature of the political process. Our problem is the way Dutch Pacific and its supporters have been fighting.
The developers pulled out of negotiations attempting to find a compromise in a legislative committee. They've been spreading money around the state capitol with a generous hand - more than $22,000 in the past year and a half. Their lobbyist, Hasina Squires, was quoted as saying the money went to legislators who were "not necessarily" in favor of the resort but seemed like they might be persuadable (i.e., buyable). Recipients have included our local Rep. Gene Whisnant and Sen. Chris Telfer.
It's pretty ironic that the resort developers, who've been whining for months that the process by which the LCDC developed its plan wasn't "transparent" enough, have chosen to wage their own fight in the back rooms of the legislature.
Doing its part for the cause, Jefferson County has filed suit to block the LCDC plan, preposterously charging that it would take away the lawful rights of county citizens (the developers) and expose the county to Measure 49 claims. The county also says it will demand reparations from the state for causing it to waste time and money changing its comprehensive plan to allow the resorts.
The other day, turning the screws a little tighter, the county said it will drop its suit if the legislature allows the Metolian to be built within the basin. When the dust settles, Jefferson County citizens might want to ask why their tax dollars were used to wage a court fight for the benefit of a private development that most of them might not even want.
Meanwhile, in recognition of their heavy-handed campaign to ram this resort through despite the public's wishes and the environment's needs, we hereby administer a heavy-footed BOOT to Dutch Pacific and Jefferson County.