| Jun 10 2009 -- Jul 20 2009 Bayocean, the Epilogue|
Goats browsing in a newly fenced-off area on Bayocean Spit.Bayocean Spit in Tillamook County looks like an ordinary coastal sand spit: sandy, mostly flat, and empty but for wind and dune grass. Most of the Spit is now owned by Tillamook County. However, there are still many, many platted lots on Bayocean Spit, though there are no structures at all. Why are there so many platted lots? Because once upon a time there was an entire resort town there, founded in the early 20th century by Kansas realtor T.B. Potter. It was an upscale resort town with houses, swimming pool, store and other amenities. However, the ocean breached the spit in 1939 and again in 1952. The buildings fell into the sea or were removed; the last ones were demolished in the 1970's. But the private lots that are above water still remain in private hands.
6/19/09 photo by CoastWatcher Jordan Epstein, Mile 288
Recently one of the lot owners has decided he would like to build a house on his property. The lot is about 53 acres total, consisting of seventeen acres of uplands and 36 acres of tidelands, owned now by Bay Ocean LLC. It is zoned Recreation Management (RM), which allows a single-family residential house as a conditional use. However, this is a formidable site for placing a house, as there are no utilities and no potable water in the area, and there are also problems with access. The single existing road is an easement granted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which they used when they built the South Jetty to halt erosion of the Spit.
The owner has been exploring various options in addition to a single family residence: possibly a yurt campground, which would also be a conditional use; or a caretaker's dwelling, which would be an outright permitted use if there were activities on the property that required a caretaker. Bay Ocean LLC has been considering the possibility of kale farming and/or oyster aquaculture as activities that would fulfill the requirements. Currently the owners have placed three goats in a pen on the property in order to begin establishing some kind of farming use.
There are discussions underway between the owner and Tillamook County to possibly acquire this lot for the public. Oregon Shores has long supported Tillamook County's policy of retaining Bayocean Spit in a natural state for recreation and wildlife. We support public acquisition of this lot, and all the other inholdings on the Spit, in order to remove once and for all any threat of development on the Spit. However, the owner's asking price in this case is high, ranging from a minimum of $505,000 for the parcel as vacant, up to $1.2 million if a dwelling is approved. Oregon Shores supports public acquisition at a reasonable, appropriate price.
Currently, no land use applications for development have been filed with Tillamook County, as possible purchase negotiations are underway. We, and many concerned residents of Tillamook County, will be watching the situation very closely.
For more information:
An excellent pictorial history of Bayocean in its heyday