Proposed Spit Development

Many in Cape Meares and throughout Oregon consider the Bayocean spit to be one of he unspoiled gems of the Oregon coast. We feel it is important that our residents be aware of actions that could threaten the wild nature of the spit.

By way of an alert from the Oregon Coast Alliance (ORCA), residents of Cape Meares learned that Mr. Dale Bernards of Canterbury Commercial LLC had purchased 53 acres of land on Bayocean Spit and that he is interested in submitting a land use application to Tillamook County within 30-60 days for an “eco-resort” on the land. He has a conceptual plan for Bayocean Park Resort, drawn up as a class project by students at Portland State University. Current zoning could, in theory, allow such development.

Mr. Bernards is the same person who unsuccessfully attempted to develop land on the Spit in 2008, but his efforts back then were rejected. In 2008 he began to farm his property by penning in several goats. He is now attempting a new strategy. Both strategies would result in the need for buildings, thus opening the door to more extensive development.

Mr. Bernards’ proposal was discussed at a workshop meeting of the Tillamook County Commissioners on Wednesday, April 2. An audio of this meeting can be heard on the county website shown below. A written transcription of the minutes is not yet available for review.

County Commissioners Meeting

Two Cape Meares residents (Chris Spence and Charles Ansorge) were able to attend the meeting of the Board of Commissioners mentioned above. We expressed our personal concerns about a development at that time and asked to be kept informed regarding any further actions. We did not attend as elected Executive Committee members of CMCA, but rather as citizens of Cape Meares. Below is a report of the meeting.

It is uncertain whether Mr. Bernards is serious about the pursuit of building this proposed resort or whether he would like to have the Tillamook Board of Commissioners either purchase the land he says he owns on the Spit or swap this land for other land that the county may offer. Back in 2008 the alleged value of the land that Mr. Bernards wanted to develop was $505,000, and the county pursued a grant to obtain one-half of that amount. The grant was denied. For this and other reasons, the 2008 proposal was withdrawn.

The older property valuations most likely overstates the true value. The Board of Commissioners has decided there are too many uncertainties (access, federal easement, tidelands, etc.) about how one would establish values for an acquisition/exchange. The permitting process itself can help to flesh out the true value, so the commissioners decided to wait to see “if the permit had legs” before initiating discussions concerning an acquisition.

During the meeting, Spence commented on the broad base of support for protecting the spit. He asked if now would be the time to consider the land status to a zone that would shut the door to any future attempts to develop. The commissioners present were open to that idea, but pointed out that resolution of the current proposal should come first.

The ball is now in the court of Mr. Bernards regarding what his next step will be. Should he decide to continue his efforts to construct the resort he will find it will be exceedingly difficult to do so. Cape Meares residents will be kept informed regarding any news related to this matter.