State park plans stalls over fire services plan


LINCOLN COUNTY — The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners again discussed a zoning amendment ordinance for agricultural and timber lands within the Brian Booth State Park, which is undergoing somewhat of a facelift by the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation. 

However, with no concrete emergency services agreement between the state parks department and the Seal Rock Rural Fire Protection District (SRFD), the board of commissioners expressed interest in not moving forward this week until public safety issues could be addressed and a concrete agreement could be nailed down.

At least one county commissioner had concerns about eight different recommendations county officials made to the state’s parks and recreation department in 2014 as part of the state parks master plan. Those recommendations are to be included as part of the ordinance zone change should the board of commissioners approve the zoning change. 

Those recommendations included restricting access to a Seal Rock subdivision from Brian Booth State Park, removing all references to off-site trail connections, and perhaps most pressing, negotiating a service agreement with the SRFD. Ironing out a deal between Brian Booth State Park and the SRFD was a condition of approval in order for the board of commissioners to approve the zoning change so that a local agency could respond to emergencies. 

“There is not a finalized agreement at this point,” said Lincoln County Counsel Wayne Belmont during the county commission meeting Wednesday morning. 

Despite concerns about not having a finalized emergency services agreement, County Community Development Director Onno Husing said parks officials wanted to nail down that agreement after approval by county officials, not before. 

“OPRD, in effect, responded by saying, ‘Can we please change it from before the zone change to before any building permits were issued,’” said Husing. “So they asked for a larger time. My notes say our planning commission concurred with OPRD’s response to recommendation three in terms of the timing.”

However, the board of commissioners stuck by the point of having that agreement in place before the board approves the zone change. 

“Not having that safety through a number of things, including an ODOT [Oregon Department of Transportation] traffic study, as well as an agreement with Seal Rock Fire District, that need is not solidified for safety,” said Commissioner Kaety Jacobsen.

Other recommendations include the state parks department scoping out issues related to drainage in the park, continued work with adjacent property owners around Brian Booth, as well as dealing with drainage around Beaver Creek, establishing a nutrient control program for vegetation in the park, preparing a traffic circulation plan to find ways to direct park visitors and making improvements to transportation appropriate to the scale of the park. All the recommendations were previously accepted by officials at OPRD. 

“We’ve got a lot of recommendations that, in my opinion, still address what I feel are ongoing concerns,” said Commissioner Doug Hunt. “For this to be successful, we need to have a relationship that shows trust and good faith on both sides. I would like more time to have further dialogue on these recommendations and see more concrete progress on addressing those recommendations.”

The board of commissioners opted to put off making a decision until a later date so they, and other county officials, could talk further about the recommendations and ensure loose ends are tied up.

“This would allow staff to have dialogue with OPRD and hopefully ODOT to see if we can get something going even if not in terms of a comprehensive traffic study, a preliminary traffic study and also communicate and see if we can do anything to help facilitate the process of the agreement,” said County Commissioner Claire Hall. “Although I realize that’s between the fire district and parks, but it’s certainly of interest in our ultimate decision.”

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