Public meeting tonight in Seaside
MANZANITA - In response to growing interest in ocean renewable energy development along the Oregon coast, Clatsop and Tillamook counties have begun the process to adopt planning measures to manage this type of development.
"How do we move forward in a way that makes sense?" asked Tillamook County Commissioner Tim Josi at an informal workshop held Sept. 29 at Manzanita City Hall to discuss future development. Josi, along with other Tillamook County city and county officials, was there to learn what steps Clatsop County had already undertaken as it seeks to change its comprehensive plan to include a Goal 19 element that would provide a vehicle for public input on future development projects.
"Public notice and public hearings are a key part of this process with
current law requiring a mailed notice to everyone with an address in
the county for comprehensive plan changes. Without the adoption of a
Goal 19 element, the input and decision process is not clearly
defined, which could result in projects becoming stymied with
confusing appeals," Clatsop County planning consultant Mark Barnes
noted in a memo to County Manager Duane Cole dated Sept, 29, 2011.
Both Barnes and Cole attended the workshop, sharing information as to where Clatsop County is in the process. In making changes to its comprehensive plan, Clatsop County seeks to address permanent structures - wave and energy devices, cables and pipelines, buoys and other fixed structures - in the territorial sea that extends ocean-ward 3.45 miles west of the coastline.
Josi, acknowledging that Clatsop County has taken the lead, wants
coastal counties to be proactive instead of reactive in addressing
future offshore energy development.
"That's the reason we are here today," Josi said. "How do we move
forward? How do we choreograph this? I think we have to get ahead of
In addition to the issue of who has the final say - the state or
coastal counties - as to what happens in the territorial sea, Josi
said coastal jurisdictions are at the stage they need to be talking
about the visual impact of future facilities at sea as well. "This is
much more difficult," he said. "It involves talking with interest and
economic groups about components of the sea that are important to them... We're talking about something near and dear to those who live on the coast and to a lesser degree visitors. We need to involve the public early on or it will blow up in our face. The state doesn't recognize this."
Others in attendance agreed that the viewshed was a critical issue.
"It's clear developers want to move ahead," said Manzanita Mayor Garry Bullard, "but who is going to draw the short straw? Nobody is going to want this in their backyard, especially here in Manzanita."
Clatsop County Commissioner Debra Birkby took issue with the state's
handling of marine reserves off the Oregon coast and does not want to
see another instance of that happening again.
"The state's notification process was horrible in south Clatsop County (where a marine reserve was proposed). The county has a much better hand in notifying its citizens."
Jurisdiction, said Josi, is a key obstacle. "What role do counties
have, advisory or otherwise?" he asked.
Cole noted that Clatsop County's legal counsel said the county had
jurisdiction up to 3.45 miles from the shoreline.
Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD) coastal planner Matt Spangler, who joined the discussion by telephone, acknowledged the existence of jurisdictional obstacles. However, as far as the onshore component to future development, that, he said, would be subject to county land-use authority. "There's no question about
that," said Spangler.
"It sounds like the counties would have veto power, in reality, as to
what can come ashore, no matter what is out there...and the projects
don't get done," Josi replied, noting the importance of the state and
coastal counties "consummating a deal."
As for moving forward, Josi said it was important that coastal
counties get a handle on what is happening in Clatsop County and
engage their citizens in the process. One avenue, Josi suggested, was
coordinating the effort through the Oregon Coastal Zone Management
"We need to get all of the counties moving together in step," said Josi.
A public meeting about the Territorial Sea Plan is scheduled for Oct. 18 from 7 - 9 p.m. at Seaside City Hall, 989 Broadway.
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