Salishan residents showed up in force Monday night to oppose what they contend is the virtual destruction of what they were buying when they purchased their upper-end homes at Salishan (they lease their lots). Others who attended the county planning commission meeting this week claimed that Salishan’s economic energy has waned over the years and that it needs to be invigorated – with more bicycle use, zip lines through trees, and assisted high level recreational tree climbing.
The two sides couldn’t be more divided. Salishan’s new owner, Alpha Wave, told the planning commission that Salishan has languished as a luxury hide-away – a less than financially successful real estate and lifestyle product of many years ago. It’s commercial section is a shadow of what it was in its hey-day. But to those who still live there, they consider it their get-away sanctuary – others their permanent refuge from the outside world with easy access to the beach, tree-lined trails and friendly neighbors. They enjoy the serenity of the quiet forest and the nearby ocean beaches. Salishan’s founder, John Gray, created the community to all those common ends. The “planned development” speaks strongly about the very reasons that people have moved their over the years and why they want it to stay the same.
Enter development company Alpha Wave, which bought the property and which has a totally different attitude about their now “investment property.” Neighbors and county planners were stunned to learn that Alpha Wave had installed a very intrusive and noisy zip line through parts of the development – installed it without getting a building permit from the county – nor even told them they were doing it. All against county ordinances.
The county got a hold of Alpha Wave and told them that Salishan has a binding designation that has been in effect since developer John Gray asked for one. The spirit of that plan holds that Salishan is an upscale residential development surrounded by the Salishan Golf Course with extensive walking and biking trails that lead to the beaches and back. A quiet residential resort that, for many, is an oasis of peace and greenery. The descriptions of the essence of Salishan run throughout the “Planned Development” language found in the documents that created the unique community.
But there were other residents who contended that Salishan has become a sleepy shadow of it’s former self and that it needs to be rejuvenated and made more welcoming to a wider variety of lifestyles. And that if it gets a bit more crowded or noisy, that’s the price of progress.
But long time residents contend the Planned Development’s status cannot be overturned just because some outside corporation comes in, buys it and tries to turn it into a “residential Disneyland.”
The planning commission hearing this week ended pretty much in a stalemate. The planning commission decided to continue the proceedings until July 23rd when the issue will again be raised, but at the county courthouse in Newport. But until then, Salishan residents are welcome to send more written thoughts, complaints or praise about the proposed changes. Those written comments have a cut off date of June 18th. Meanwhile, at the June 23rd meeting, Alpha Wave will be allowed to give their written and verbal “closing remarks” to the planning commission that will contend that Salishan is an under-valued asset and that they have the right to change what they will about the ambiance of the area.
But again, Salishan was not created as a regular neighborhood. Residents say to have it so transformed by Alpha Wave violates the original land use agreements that allowed Salishan to be created in the first place and for which subsequent buyers should have known cannot be changed simply by waving a bill of sale of the land. Residents own the homes – they lease their lots.
So again, on July 23rd, at the Lincoln County Courthouse in the County Commissioners chambers, the issue will be given consideration by the planning commission. But no matter which way the decision goes, the other side will likely appeal the ruling to the County Commission. More time, more testimony…and then there is the possibility the issue will wind up in court.