Riprap decision postponed in Rockaway Beach

Although a decision was planned Tuesday by the Rockaway Beach Planning Commission on whether to approve or denial an appeal by a homeowner over a proposed riprap revetment to protect his hose from beach erosion, it was postponed again.

By Brad Mosher

According to the city planner, Ryan Crater, the attorneys for the city and for homeowner Tai Dang of Hillsboro are in discussions on how to settle the dispute.

Because of the ongoing discussions, the decision by the commission has been continued, he said after the meeting.

The dispute is over the house located at 211 West Sixth Street in Rockaway Beach.

Started seven years ago

The property owner received a developmental permit from the city claiming it was conforming to the required Ocean Setback Line, approximately seven years ago.

In January 2015, the city passed along the riprap request as being consistent with the comprehensive plan in the area and passed it on to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department for approval.

Riprap revetments are used to minimize coastal erosion by absorbing most of the energy in incoming waves. Riprap is when rock or concrete rubble is used to form the protective barrier.

Shortly afterward, the city has changed its position, claiming the home was not located in a way to comply with the original Ocean Setback Line. That line is set by comparing the area north and south of the building site, according to former city planner Jay Sennewald.

According to the letter sent by the former city planner on April 2, a later review showed the property is ineligible for shorefront protection.

The owner appealed the city’s decision, eventually setting up the hearings on the riprap proposal before the planning commission in January.

According to Sennewald, it was after more research the city determined that the house was not eligible for riprap because there was not an exception for where the house was built.

The controversy is focusing on a proposal to lay down a riprap wall approximately 14 feet tall and more than 80 feet long in order to halt or slow beach erosion that is closing in on the 3,300-square foot home.

The house was built in 2008 and does not meet the OSL requirement because of the placement of the structure, according to the letter from the city.

The home has advertised that it can be used for overnight parties of 25 people.

On the beach in front of the house were are remnants of when large trees and driftwood were used to prevent erosion. The recent series of storms which hammered the city in December cut even closer to the building, increasing the threat from erosion.

According to Sennewald, Goal 18 is a state-wide planning rule which states that people can not put buildings on active beaches and dunes.

“You can not put new development on active dunes or on unstable dunes and the oceanfront,” Sennewald said in a interview last year. “The city did take a recent exception back in 2008 prior to the construction of the home and prior to its permit being issued.

“The Goal 18 exception area is everything east of the Ocean Setback Line. That is determined by taking the average of the ocean setback for existing structures for 200 feet north and south of the property. You take that average setback and any new development on the lot has to meet the average of all the other setbacks,” Sennewald explained in May 2015.

“After the city made the recommendation that the proposed rap was compatible, we got some phone calls questioning that determination,” he said. “So we went back to the original building permits signed by the city planner at the time. It seemed to me that the averaging was not correctly applied.”

Dang filed an appeal of the city’s decision, prompting several hearings in January and additional documentation being submitted to the commission in February.

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