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Permit denied for Brightwood RV park

A conditional-use permit for a proposed RV park in Brightwood has been denied.

The decision was announced last week, two months after a Clackamas County land-use hearing that drew some 60 Brightwood-area residents to Oregon City to publicly voice their concerns about the park’s construction.

The owner of the land, Kashmir Dhadwal, was seeking 99 campsites on his 9.08-acre site along Highway 26, but neighbors feared the park could damage their community’s beauty, ecology, safety and property values. At the April 7 hearing, residents also shared their experiences with the history of the property and their beliefs that Dhadwal’s past stewardship of the land did not bode well for future development.

In his 16-page denial determination, land-use hearings officer Fred Wilson cited many of the worries expressed by Brightwood residents at the hearing. One of those worries related to how the park might affect wildlife, as the property is located within a deer and elk winter range area. Noise, lighting, dust and traffic from the park were other issues raised by local residents, which Wilson also touched on in his determination.

“I am convinced by opponents’ testimony that traffic is very congested and already causes problems for surrounding residents,” Wilson wrote.

Residents also shared their anxieties about the type of visitors the park would draw, worrying that it would attract people who would use the park to live in their RVs long-term, rather than for the camping purposes for which it was intended. Wilson also touched on those concerns in his determination, noting that although another, smaller RV park — the Ark Motel and RV Park — is located nearby, Dhadwal’s proposed RV park would have a more significant impact on the area than the 24-year-old Ark.

Ultimately, those who opposed the park simply made a stronger case, Wilson noted.

“The opponents’ evidence and testimony is much more compelling than the limited evidence and testimony from the applicant,” Wilson wrote.

In a footnote, Wilson also touched on what had been another point of opposition - Dhadwal’s past stewardship of the property, and how residents believed it could foretell the park’s future.

At the land-use hearing, Brightwood resident Chris Covelle told Wilson about the 111 documented times Clackamas County Sheriff’s deputies visited a trailer on the Dhadwal property over the past several years. She also presented photographs that showed how the land had been recently clear-cut of trees and littered with trash.

Wilson wrote, “While I would reach the same conclusion regardless of the owner’s past management of the property, the longstanding mismanagement of the property hardly inspires confidence that the owner would abide by all the proposed conditions of approval and minimize impacts on surrounding properties.”

On Monday, Covelle said in an email that she was grateful for Wilson’s determination to deny the conditional-use permit for the park.

“The Mt. Hood Villages community stood together as a united front to protect the integrity of the scenic byway and what it stands for,” Covelle said. “We are all very happy that the county and the hearings officer listened to all the concerns. Our community is very satisfied with this judgement and is prepared for any future atrocity regarding this applicant and the land owner.”

The applicant, who is listed as Dhadwal’s wife Kaur Amarjit, can appeal the decision to the Land Use Board of Appeals.