A former portion of Arcadia State Park, which was traded to a private owner seven years ago, may be up for grabs again, according to a planning consultant who spoke at a Clatsop County Planning Commission meeting Tuesday.
Mark Barnes, who represents the land's owner, James Smejkal, told the commission that Smejkal is discussing the possibility of selling the property.
Although Barnes didn't reveal who wanted to buy it, he said two speakers at a hearing in February, who opposed Smejkal's proposal to build eight houses on the property, had contacted Barnes and suggested the sale. Barnes referred them to Smejkal's attorney.
Barnes requested that the planning commission continue the hearing for another month "to give them the breathing room to see if there is a possibility there."
Barnes said he didn't know if progress was being made.
"I can only guess whether that's a possibility or not, but they're at least discussing that possibility," Barnes said. "Mr. Smejkal has no emotional attachment to the property ... so the possibility of a straight-across, arm's-length real estate transaction is at least within the realm out there."
The planning commission agreed to continue the hearing to 10 a.m. April 14. It will be conducted in the Judge Guy Boyington Building, 857 Commercial St., Astoria.
Smejkal, who received 17.6 acres of what once was part of the 25-acre Arcadia State Park in a land trade with the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation, is proposing to build eight homes on the site. The property, on the east side of U.S. Highway 101, is about three miles south of Cannon Beach.
Before Smejkal can develop the property, however, he must receive a zone change from the current agricultural forestry and recreational management zones to residential agricultural 2. The new zone would allow Smejkal to place a house on every two acres. He also must receive exceptions to several state land-use goals.
However, to avoid having to meet those land-use goals, Smejkal could receive a lesser zone change to agricultural forestry, which would allow four to five houses on the site as a conditional use, said county planner Jennifer Bunch.
Barnes said Smejkal isn't ready to change the original application yet and wants to pursue the potential property sale.
Barnes admitted, however, that obtaining the state land-use exceptions would be a "big hurdle."
If Smejkal decides to "downsize" his proposal, the county wouldn't be required to notify surrounding property owners because they already were notified of the larger proposal, said county planner Michael Weston.
Planning commissioner Brian Pogue suggested that Barnes might want to pursue the agricultural forestry zone if the property sale doesn't go through.
"Sometimes you have to go through the woods in a different direction," Pogue told Barnes.