ARCH CAPE — Plans for an RV park across from Arcadia Beach that drew ire from environmentalists and neighbors have been scrapped.
James Smejkal, the owner of the 17.6-acre parcel of forestland nestled next to U.S. Highway 101, wanted to build what he called “an upscale RV park,” mostly because it is one of the only types of development allowed with the land’s recreation management zoning.
But as the project moved forward, Smejkal faced logistical challenges like building proper roadways into the park, finding a nearby water source for infrastructure and doing construction without downing trees, Leonard Waggoner, Smejkal’s development consultant, said.
Now, Smejkal is looking to sell.
“Mechanically, it just didn’t fit,” Waggoner said. “We would have had to build 1,000 feet of roadway for 15 or 20 units.”
Smejkal has faced roadblocks to development since he acquired the land in 2002 through a trade with the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department. In 2009, Smejkal tried to develop the property as housing, which was ultimately denied by the Clatsop County Planning Commission.
The RV park also encountered vocal local pushback. Arch Cape residents and environmental groups raised concerns in September at a public hearing about adding traffic to an already populated stretch of Highway 101, threats to water quality with sewer infrastructure butting up against nearby streams and the property’s proximity to threatened marbled murrelet habitat.
Although county planners were concerned with the criticism, Waggoner said, community concerns did not sway Smejkal’s decision to sell.
“There were a lot of things not desirable with this land from a development standpoint,” Waggoner said. “It got to be a very elaborate process for a small parcel of land.”
Now that the property is off the table for development, the North Coast Land Conservancy has shown interest in bringing what was once state parkland back into conservation.
Katie Voelke, the land conservancy’s executive director, said in an email that the property has conservation value, including the connection to the state park and beach and a forest with legacy spruce and cedar that provides nesting habitat for the marbled murrelet.
While Waggoner said he has had conversations with the land conservancy, no offer has been made and a price has yet to be set.
The price will be determined by an Oregon Department of Transportation forester who will survey the land for timber value. Waggoner said that if Smejkal can’t find a buyer, they will start the process to rezone the land to allow harvesting the timber.
“If an environmental group wants it, we see that as the best use,” Waggoner said.