Hyatt Lake resort plans challenged

A Greensprings neighborhood group has challenged a Jackson County decision to allow upgrading of a Hyatt Lake resort, fearing it would create sewage problems, harm wells and increase fire danger.

At the same time, the resort owners are disputing the planning department's approval because the county also cut back on other requested plans after finding various discrepancies in the application.

Bob McNeely, one of the owners of the resort, said he has been trying to improve the Hyatt Resort and Campers Cove on Hyatt Prairie Road since 2005, but has run into one problem after another with the county.

"They've red-tagged me," he said. "I can't put any more cabins up here."

The newly formed neighborhood group, Southern Oregon Citizens for Responsible Land Use Planning, and the resort owner, Campers Cove Resort LLC, have both formally appealed the county's tentative approval to a Jackson County land-use hearings officer.

A public hearing will be held at 9 a.m. Monday in the Jackson County Courthouse auditorium, 10 S. Oakdale Ave.

Sandy Speasl of Southern Oregon Citizens said residents in the Greensprings area only recently found out about the resort's expansion plans from the county.

"Personally, we were not notified," she said.

Speasl said she has sent out information about the appeal to more than 20 residents in the area.

Their concerns, she said, are that the resort at Hyatt Lake is becoming too big and too dense for an area that is zoned for forest use. The lake is about 10 miles east of Ashland.

In addition, she said, the cabins, which are actually a type of recreational vehicle, are being treated as permanent residences rather than just for casual recreational purposes. Speasl said the group is concerned also about wastewater treatment, available water, fire danger and impacts on wildlife.

McNeely has been given tentative approval for some of the changes he's requested. County planners supported expanding the deck off the restaurant, reconstructing the bait shop, reconstructing four cabins without kitchens, upgrading a shop building and upgrading a shower building. According to county documents, the changes would not significantly increase the fire hazard.

But the planners, who have compiled about 900 pages of documentation, found discrepancies between what was listed in the application and what was found at the resort in other requests. Instead of 35 full hook-up sites for recreational vehicles, they verified only 22. Instead of 22 water and electric RV sites, they found 13. In the application, it stated there were eight RV spaces with just electricity and another 18 with no services, but none were found, according to county documents.

Three single-family residences were cited in the application, but county officials found only two. Five cabins were listed, but only four were verified.

The application listed a playground and horse amenities, but county documents stated, "There is no evidence to suggest the playground exists at this time, nor is there any evidence of horse amenities. The horse stalls/amenities were approved Aug. 19, 1992, but there is no evidence to suggest the approval was ever acted upon."

According to county documents, the property has a history of inspection and code problems.

"Over a period of 25 years, 45 different camp sites have sewer or illegal discharge of waste violations of some form," according the county documents.

On April 30 of this year the county investigated a report of a failing septic system. In addition, county officials checked on a heliport built without approval in 2007.

A bait shop remodeling request uncovered that there were no permits for the original structure, according to the documents.

McNeely said he thinks his problems started with the county when he wanted to rebuild the bait shop, which he said has been there since the 1940s.

He said the resort has always been licensed for 35 full hook-up sites, not the 22 claimed by the county. "We just want to finish the other 13," he said.

McNeely owns a company that makes recreational vehicles that resemble small cabins, which have been placed on the property.

He said everything at the resort has complied with all necessary health inspections and licenses and no one lives in the cabins year round.

While some neighbors have complained, others have voiced their support for the improvements at the resort, he said.

"It's been a real success," McNeely. "I've been real pleased. People love what we've done."

According to county records, many neighbors have sent in letters supporting the improvements proposed at Camper Cove. Speasl said her group didn't have enough time to send in letters of opposition.

Jackson County Commissioner C.W. Smith said Campers Cove representatives complained to the county about a year ago that they weren't getting proper cooperation from planning staff.

He then set up a joint meeting, in which Campers Cove requested a review of its files. As a result, the review delved into the records of the property that unearthed some of the problems.

"You sort of open up this Pandora's box a lot of the times," said Smith.

Now, disputes have arisen over the interpretation of planning law, which will be clarified by the hearings officer Monday, he said.

Even though the planning process can be frustrating, Smith said the county has tried to be fair to everyone.

"We want to be helpful to people, but you can't please everybody," he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476 or

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