City approves RV park in city limits

The Cave Junction City Council held its first meeting of the month Sept. 12, and while it was a lengthy one that included two public hearings, things progressed smoothly. The council was able to tentatively give the green light to the previously discussed RV park, and renewed the expired approval for the construction of the Lil’ Pantry that is going to be built near the Dollar General.
Unlike the last meeting, Mayor Meadow Martell was present alongside all four council members: Ethan Lane, Tina Casey Jones, Jean Ann Miles, and Jesse Dugas. The liaison updates that they gave were brief, though there was some excitement when Councilor Casey Jones mentioned that the Parks & Recreation Commission expects the new playground equipment to be delivered Sept. 29. This means that a groundbreaking ceremony is just around the corner, and local children will soon be able to enjoy the playground upgrade.
Public Works Director Alex Ponder gave his regular update, integrating a piece of galvanized pipe for council members to pass around as an example of the materials his team has been slowly working to upgrade around town.
When the floor was opened for public comments, Lindsey B. Jones spoke on behalf of RiverStars Performing Arts regarding a planned pavilion use permit they will be filing in the future for the yearly class that they hold for interested youth. Jones urged the council to consider reducing or waiving the required fee for use of the pavilion kitchens so that the attached bathrooms can be used by the children who will be participating, rather than the park bathrooms, which are a significant distance away from the pavilion.
The council also approved an OLCC license for local eatery The Replay, and declared several unoccupied properties on Wells Drive to be a nuisance. This latter decision was due to the extreme overgrowth on these properties presenting an obvious fire hazard. The property owner will be fined $500 per day per property, backdated from Aug. 27 until the problem is fixed.
After all of this, the third public hearing surrounding the planned RV park near Laurel Rd commenced. In the time since the last hearing, council members had been given a tour of the property so that they could get a clearer idea of what was being proposed. Lane recounted that he had researched the definition of “sight obscuring fencing,” and after visiting the site had been able to determine that the existing vegetation, plus whatever the applicant chose to add to it, should meet that definition. He also felt as though the phased five-year paving plan was appropriate. Similarly, he stated that if the fire district were to sign off on the access point and propane storage, his concerns would be assauged.

With the exception of Tina Casey-Jones, who was mostly still concerned about the lack of an access point, the remaining council members were conflicted about the vegetation fence idea. Echoing Casey-Jones’ concerns about the lack of a fire lane, Jean Ann Miles pointed out that the lack of egress for residents to use in case of an emergency could cause conflict with emergency vehicles. Jesse Dugas agreed with this point, while Mayor Martell pointed out that the prospective vegetation fence may interfere with the privacy of future residents.
The applicant, Brian Westerhaut, spoke to the council and was able to explain the layout of the park in-depth, assuring them that his team had gone over the details with ODOT and IVFD to ensure that the area would still be accessible in the event of an emergency, and that a specific fire lane would be created on the property to improve this access. He also gave more specific dimensions for the vegetation fence to emphasize that the privacy of the residents would not be infringed upon, adding that if fencing in certain areas, it could be provided.
After all was said and done, the council finally voted to approve the project under certain conditions that had been outlined over the course of the discussion, though the vote was split 3-2 with Council members Miles and Dugas against.
A second public hearing commenced shortly thereafter, though this one was much shorter and was merely a formality that served to renew that application for the construction of the Lil’ Pantry convenience store. Since the council had already seen the material when they had previously approved the project, it was approved unanimously once more.