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Eis Now Planned For D'Port Resort Proposal

Following appeal, alterations

If you were planning on golfing at the proposed Sundoon Resort golf course, you'd better delay your tee time.

On Jan. 4, the Klickitat County Planning Department issued a notice that it had withdrawn the "mitigated determination of non-significance" (MDNS) for the Dallesport project and has instead issued a "determination of significance."

The new designation will require an Environmental Impact Statement, the extent of which is yet to be determined.

"The issues are such and complex enough that the applicant wanted further analysis for the EIS," explained Klickitat County Planning Director Curt Dreyer. "Over the last year, the applicant has looked at various issues that have been brought up in the appeal and decided it was best to go through the EIS process."

The Roseland Property Group LLC has proposed a resort development of approximately 541 acres. The site for the development is east of the Columbia Gorge Regional Airport and west of U.S. Highway 197. Dallesport Road is to the south of the proposed resort, with Tidyman Road to the west.

The conceptual layout for the development includes as many as 404 residential units; a 100-unit, 66,000 square foot inn with a conference center; a small (25,000 square feet) commercial center; a community center; as many as three swimming pools; and "resort amenities" that will feature an 18-hole championship public golf course.

A bit of history about the proposal: The county's Planning Department issued an MDNS in December 2007. Columbia Riverkeeper, a Bingen-based environmental watchdog organization, appealed the MDNS in January 2008. Roseland Property Group responded by making modifications to the scope of the proposed project, leading to the recent withdrawal of the MDNS by the county.

"Significant information has been assembled in efforts to look in to the issues brought up in the appeal, and it was decided it was best to do the EIS process," said Dreyer.

Linda Rose of West Linn, a partner with Roseland Property Group, said there was no way to predict the length of the EIS process.

"We are putting it out for public comment. There are tasks that need to be completed, and it's however long those tasks take," Rose explained. "We're just working through all the details and the studies we need to complete."

Dreyer said significant changes to the proposal also triggered the call for the EIS.

"It's the same proposal with a couple additional elements -- the conference center and the hotel," Dreyer pointed out.

Rose said the conference center was added to meet what Roseland perceived as interest from the community.

"We had some interest with businesses that have moved to the area that could really use training facilities, and there was interest in having a place for a public meeting center," Rose said. "We thought the golf course would be a great place for that, and it is already zoned for that use. It's a beautiful site for it."

She added that there is no timeline on when construction might begin.

"There have been efforts to get a golf course in the area for about 10 years," Rose said. "It sounds like it has public support."

Approximately 85 percent of the overall 541-acre parcel is to be dedicated to "open space." The open space designation includes the golf course itself.

Also proposed is a 250-unit storage facility with covered and surface areas to provide space for boats, ATVs, RVs, etc.

According to Dreyer, the EIS should not be a lengthy process.

"It should be a fairly short period of time for the EIS -- possibly three months, depending on the scoping comments," he added.

The Planning Department will accept comments on the scope of the EIS until Jan. 28. Comments can be submitted to the Klickitat County Planning Department at 228 W. Main, MS CH-17, Goldendale, Wash., 98620.

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