Homeowners’ dune-grading appeal deemed too late for review

The Breakers in Cannon Beach.

On Tuesday, Oct. 6, the Cannon Beach City Council dismissed an appeal to conditions tacked onto the Planning Commission’s approval of dune grading at Breakers Point after councilors agreed it was “untimely.” The council did not delve into the substance of the appeal as members said it had been filed too late to be considered.

Breakers Point homeowners Frank and Janet Patrick, a member of the Planning Commission who had recused herself from the hearing process, appealed two conditions of the plan requiring the Breakers Point Homeowners Association to wait on further dune grading projects until the city has approved a revised sand management and Breakers Point’s revegetation plan has established success. These could be up to 18 to 24 months after the project’s start, according to planning commissioners.

The Patricks argued the conditions are “improper restrictions” as they have no specific end date

and supersede Oregon law. The decision, they said, amounts to a moratorium, which would be illegal under existing statutes.

The city’s consulting attorney Carrie Richter with the law firm Garvey Schubert Barer Richter wrote the decision was within the city’s right. “Since there is no denial or delay, there is no moratorium and any such allegation is premature,” she said.

Executive Director of the Oregon Coast Alliance Cameron La Follette wrote a letter asking the council to dismiss the Patricks’ appeal because it was five days late and “impermissible to appeal conditions without appealing the decision underlying the conditions.”

Cannon Beach ordinance states a decision to the Planning Commission may be appealed within 20 days of the final order being signed.

The City Council decided the final order was effective Aug. 27, the night of Planning Commission approval, rather than Sept. 1, when the 13,700-cubic-yard dune grading project decision was mailed out. The Patricks’ appeal was filed Sept. 21, outside the date property owners may appeal.

La Follette wrote that the Sept. 1 memo stating the “applicant or parties may appeal within 20 days of the date of this letter” was inaccurate as it did not follow the timeline allowed by city code. Councilor Mike Benefield said he believed the final order was signed on Aug. 27, and suggested the council dismiss the appeal.

The decision was unanimous. Councilor Melissa Cadwallader was absent.

The city is in the process now of drafting a new ordinance that would prohibit dune grading until Cannon Beach’s sand management plan update is complete. The ordinance could take up to 60 days to implement, City Planner Mark Barnes said.

He estimated a time frame of roughly 18 months for adoption of the new sand management plan. The Aug. 27 Planning Commission approval of a Breakers Point request for dune grading will not be impacted if it is approved.

Breakers Point will grade 13,700 cubic yards of sand west of the development to restore views and improve beach access. Future dune grading requests will be possible, but only after completion of the city’s sand management plan.

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