By Laura Swanson, Editor, Tillamook County Pioneer
“We are, of course, disappointed that the Manzanita Planning Commission and area residents couldn’t see the positives of a planned development,” commented Rick Hinkes of Encore Development, the company that has taken on making Ted Erickson’s vision for the property a reality. The Planning Commission essentially shut the door on any increase in the short-term rental cap which was a pivotal part for Encore. “The idea of a planned community was to enhance the uniqueness of Manzanita and the area,” said Hinkes. “Too many comparisons to places like Sunriver and other much larger resorts were really not accurate, but the focus was on all the negative aspects. We really thought we had laid out a plan that would enhance Manzanita, but it was overwhelming for the community. It seems short-sighted to us, but it will simplify things.”
Increasing the short term rental cap, the golf course connection, increased traffic, and the commercial amenities were the particular points that were unpopular. “So our economic advisors are sharpening their pencils, and looking at the financial feasibility. No commercial area, trails or public spaces. Possibly a small hotel. The land will be filled with homes,” said Hinkes. “We are talking about the best way to do it within the allowable uses.”
There have been suggestions that the developers were “holding the golf course hostage” – if the planning commission didn’t approve the commercial area and increase the STR than the golf course couldn’t be “saved.” “That was never the intention,” said Jim Pentz. “By including the golf course as an amenity for the development, we had a ‘built-in’ customer base, but that isn’t going to work.” The development will be completely separate from the golf course. Pentz, Steve and Tony Erickson are working on options for the golf course, from looking for a manger to talking with interested community members. The golf course will close effective October 1st.
The Planning Commission didn’t even mention the affordable workforce housing issue. “We are looking into a specific plan to address the issue,” said Hinkes. “We feel strongly about making sure that we don’t contribute to the problem.” The Village at Manzanita will provide at minimum 50 jobs. Encore is consulting with a regional affordable housing expert and looking into a specific plan to address the issue.
“We didn’t expect that the first plan presented would be approved, but we did hope that there would be some negotiating on the STR cap, but that’s simply not the case,” said Hinkes. The City of Manzanita put the cap at 17.5% based upon the number of short-term rentals at the time the cap was set, and there are only 13 homes on the waiting list. “The perception was that with no cap all the homes would be rentals, which is not what we intended,” said Hinkes. “The ‘real numbers’ for short term rentals would be around 25 to 30 percent.”
Encore Development will make it’s formal application to the city in August or September. The future of the golf course remains in limbo, and it is scheduled to close September 30th, there are possibilities being explored. From the public meetings and open house, it was clear that the golf course is important to the community. “Steve is looking for someone who might want to buy his company and operate the course, and I am meeting with community members and interested parties to see what options we may have to save the course,” said Jim Pentz.
“We thoroughly enjoyed the open house and the engagement with the community,” said Hinkes. “We had some of the best conversations and want to encourage the community to continue to ask questions and we’ll provide the answers. We are all about transparency. We get it. From the start, the concept of a planned community is not what people want,” he continued. “We’re disappointed, but, oh well, we will build it.”