The Cannon Beach City Council’s decision at its Tuesday night meeting on March 1 was not surprising, but so disappointing.
On the one side, they heard from Nicholson and his cohorts talking about the threats of destruction of historic homes, an imaginary 15,000 sq. ft. “McMansion” and the value of “small, affordable cottages.” In fact, there will be no restored home, McMansion or cottages. His four houses will be full-sized and full-priced. He was accompanied by his usual handful of lawyers, geo-techs and architects. But we were also treated to an entourage of his “supporters,” a crew of young people from Portland who knew nothing about Cannon Beach or this issue. I wonder if the council and staff weren’t insulted to think he would try to pull off this charade? It was another attempt to fool us into thinking he has viable local support. The rest of the citizens of Cannon Beach could see right through his latest sham. Why couldn’t the council?
On the other side, there was a standing room-only crowd of concerned homeowners, both local and seasonal. Most of the opponents have had deep connections to Cannon Beach for up to 50 years or more. They are taxpayers and over half are Clatsop County voters. They presented incredibly clear, well-researched arguments for why the council should have denied Nicholson’s proposal. They couldn’t have been more respectful, knowledgeable and rational. And yet, except for Mr. Benefield, the council all refused to acknowledge or address the opponent’s positions. It really does feel like they are deferring to the city lawyers and staff. I just can’t understand why they are so pro-Nicholson in this matter. Is there something they have to gain by this alliance?
The city councilors were elected to support and represent their friends, neighbors and the citizens of this town. When a sizable group of our community opposes this PUD, largely because the proposal ran counter to the requirements set out in the city codes, why would three councilors and the mayor support it? They approved it with a long list of conditions, which made it obvious that the application was incomplete. Many opponents begged them to explain why they supported this issue and so far, in the last year, none of them have even tried to explain their rationale.
We are frustrated and sad about the council’s handling of this matter. It seems like our new staff is in charge of Cannon Beach and the elected representatives have turned their power over to their “expert” advice. By the way, do any of the hired lawyers and staff live in Cannon Beach? Just asking.
Fred & Elizabeth Lorish