Environmental Activists Lose Bid to Stop Golf Course

The massive dune the bisects the Pacific Gales golf course property • photo by Brian Oar

The massive dune the bisects the Pacific Gales golf course property • photo by Brian Oar

The May 15, 2015 decision by the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals denying all golf course-related claims by environmental activists has cleared the way for Pacific Gales to build an 18-hole golf course on the Knapp Ranch property just north of Port Orford — 30 minutes south of Bandon.

“It’s definitely a victory for us,” says Jim Haley, managing partner of Elk River Property Development, who is one step closer to seeing his dream of building on the picturesque bluff-top site overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Cape Blanco Lighthouse become a reality. “We have a little more work to do in the planning process, but with this decision from LUBA, we are now assured the environmentalists can’t stand in the way of building the golf course anymore.”

Although the decision was remanded back to Curry County, the sole remaining issue is a minor sticking point regarding the size of the clubhouse and haggling over the definitions of “maximum occupancy” and “design capacity” — which will be addressed this summer with additional details of the structure to be provided by the Pacific Gales team.

“We’re already working to gather the information needed to settle the clubhouse issue,” Haley says, “but the heart of the matter for us is that LUBA denied all of the actual land-use nuisance appeals for how the Knapp family can use their own ranchland. We won on all three crucial counts when it comes to actual land-use issues for building the golf course.”

During the permitting and appeals process — which began in Curry County and went all the way to the state level — the Pacific Gales team began examining a fresh approach to fundraising for construction of the golf course. And now with the environmental hurdles cleared, the team will launch its limited-member Founders Club program in July 2015 and expects to begin pre-construction on the course as early as fall of this year as they work toward a 2017 soft opening.

“It’s been a long few years that we’ve had to fight,” Haley says, “but we’ve known all along that we have a sound environmental plan and would be good stewards of the Knapp’s beautiful land — and we’ve never doubted that we would win in the end.”