Coquille Point Threatened by Hotel Proposal

Motel currently located at Coquille Point.\Photo by Vickie Crowley.
Motel currently located at Coquille Point.\Photo by Vickie Crowley.

Just about three decades ago, Oregon Shores was actively engaged in a land use battle over plans for Coquille Point in Bandon, supporting a host of dedicated local residents.  Many in city government were pushing for development, but citizen advocacy prevailed.  Almost all of the potentially affected land became Kronenberg County Park or part of an onshore unit of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge.  A beautiful view and shoreline access point were preserved for the public, and the intertidal area and offshore rocks of the wildlife refuge were buffered by undeveloped land on the bluff top.

However, one parcel was grandfathered in—the site of the modest, and now rather decrepit, Bandon Beach Motel.  The commercial establishment clashed with its surroundings, but was relatively small and had only marginal impact. 

Now Coquille Point’s future is in doubt again, although for the moment concern has abated.  Mike Keizer, owner and developer of the Bandon Dunes golf complex, purchased the property, and announced plans to replace the two-story motel with a much larger, four-story structure.  A building of this size would loom over the wildlife refuge and intrude on the view.  The architect’s concept shows large expanses of glass, posing a grave danger of bird strikes in this spot adjacent to a wildlife refuge right on the migratory pathway.  (And we do mean adjacent; the would-be developer wants to reduce the setback to five feet.)  Lights and noise would leak into the wildlife refuge, possibly disturbing nocturnal wildlife behavior there.  It is likely that many visitors to the hotel and its associated restaurant would take up parking in the small public lot.  Potential problems abound with such a scheme.

The Bandon Planning Commission deliberated on the controversial proposed hotel at their Thursday, June 28 meeting.  Happily for opponents, the commission voted 6-1 to recommend that the Bandon City Council deny the application. Even more happily, for the time being at least, the would-be developer then announced that the proposal was being withdrawn.

This was not a decision on the hotel itself.  Before such a development could be considered for that site, the city would have to change its current comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance to allow a structure of that size with such limited setbacks.  The issue being addressed by the city was a proposed “text amendment” to the city’s plan, that would change the wording in a way that would make the hotel concept eligible for consideration.  The city would be changing its comprehensive plan to benefit one owner on one property parcel.  Oregon Shores was prepared to oppose this step before the city council, and to appeal it further if need be.  The abrupt and favorable end to the process came as a surprise.

The issue is by no means resolved.  Keizer still owns the parcel, and other nearby parcels.  A new development proposal may be forthcoming, with or without a request that the city change its zoning.

The issue in terms of the planning process is whether the city’s plan should be amended for this one lot, to allow for greater height and fewer setbacks than would be allowed in this zone.  Oregon Shores submitted comments which oppose on principle the altering of the adopted plan for such a narrow special interest.  Specific objections to the hotel plan, should a new one be submitted, would be raised during a separate application process, which would take place if the city does change the zone to make the four-story hotel the developer has in mind a possibility, or if the new proposal is more modest and doesn't require a change to the city's plan.

Contact Dana Nichols, Bandon city planner, at [email protected] or 541-347-2437 for further information on the city’s process.

For more information on the issue and Oregon Shores’ position, contact Phillip Johnson, executive director, (503) 754-9303, [email protected].