Planning can move ahead for a residential development around a mining pit that has been turned into a water-skiing lake , the Deschutes County Commission ruled this week, but commissioners limited who can use the lake and when they can ski.

Although the decision won’t be final until August, it could mark the end of a long-running dispute over the Tanager development, a proposed cluster of high-end homes along two artificial lakes at a former mining pit northwest of Bend. The two lakes — an 8-acre semicircle meant for swimming and fishing and a femur-shaped pond to the south for water-skiing — have sat unused and surrounded by vacant land for years as county hearings, appeals and lawsuits proceeded.

The County Commission’s decision will allow KC Development Group LLC, which owns the property, to move forward with planning the area and building new homes around the lakes. It also clears the way for residents of the not-yet-constructed homes, as well as the other nearby land owned by the development group and the two homes built by the Cadwell family, to ski on the lake.

But it also places restrictions on the developments, including limiting who can use it and requiring landscaping.

“It’s this idea of compatibility, and the board decides how you want to limit potential impacts,” said Deschutes County Senior Planner Anthony Raguine.

While the water-ski area would never have been public, Tanager’s developers wanted to allow other nearby homeowners to use it, provided they could access the area by private roads and followed rules to protect wildlife and mitigate fire danger.

Commissioners balked at the idea that people who didn’t live in the planned development could use the lakes, but they didn’t completely rule out the idea that the developers could later allow additional people to use the lakes. Nearby homeowners have been some of the biggest cheerleaders and chief opponents of the project.

Commissioner Tammy Baney said the cleanest way to approach the project was to pare down use of the lakes to the new development, rather than including other homes.

“I may be wrong, but I’m going to stick with what seems to be the clearest in terms of the request,” she said.

The commission also voted 2-1 to allow skiing only between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Baney disagreed, saying she thought the skiing should end by 7 p.m. to be more compatible with neighbors. “If it were me as the applicant, I’d want it to be later,” she said. “If it were me living next door, I’d want to start out small.”

The county will require Tanager and KCDG to maintain landscaping at the site, including replanting the slopes around the ski lake. Doing so addresses concerns brought by some nearby residents that deer or other animals could fall into the lakes.

Additionally, the developers plan to keep homes fairly close together and have about 84 acres of trail-free open space elsewhere on the property. The property is in the winter deer range, one of the main reasons why the Bend-based environmental watchdog group Central Oregon LandWatch opposed it.

Commissioners have until Aug. 6 to sign a final decision on the Tanager project. From there, opponents can still appeal the board’s decision.

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