A California real estate agent hopes to build a campground north of Bend but is getting pushback from his neighbor, who argues the project prompts wildfire and livability concerns.
Shawn Kormondy, of Beverly Hills, wants to build a year-round campground with 10 tents and five yurts off of U.S. Highway 97 near Fort Thompson Lane by spring. It would feature a central campfire area and short trails to a natural lava canyon on the nearly 10-acre property, according to county documents.
The idea for a campsite, which would be called Roadhouse Ranch & Camp, is inspired by the years he spent coming to visit Central Oregon as a child, Kormondy said.
“Now, I’m in a place in my life where I can make some investments and follow a passion,” Kormondy said. “My passion is to create this unique, family-friendly camping experience, and potentially do campsites like this across the West Coast. This is a passion project I’d love to execute.”
But neighboring property owner Cramer Farms LLC, operated by longtime Bend developer Aaron Lafky, and other neighbors fear the site is practically incompatible for the relatively rural area. Neighbors also fear the development could cause traffic issues, create extra noise and light from camp activities and prompt wildfire concerns in a high-risk area.
“It just seems like an inappropriate use of the land,” Lafky said Monday. “(Kormondy) doesn’t have enough to accommodate the level of use he’s proposing.”
At a hearing last week, Lafky and his attorney, Liz Fancher, argued that the project, which could host about 90 people at full capacity, would bring more light, noise and other disturbances to the three residences he rents out south of Kormondy’s lot.
But the concern shared most commonly by neighbors is the fire risk, and whether the proposed campsite was equipped to handle it if a fire broke out.
“It’s in a high-risk area, and bringing more people together brings the risk of fire,” Fancher said Wednesday.
Kormondy and his land use consultant, Doug White, argued they have addressed each of those concerns by the way they designed the site, including providing a tank of water on the property to mitigate fire risk.
Lafky argues that no matter what is changed in the design, there will always be conflict because of a difference in lifestyle. With one property abutting the campsite’s property line, Lafky said there has already been conflict between Kormondy and his tenants because of the sight and smells of the livestock Lafky’s tenants raise.
“This is a good example of what could be a conflict,” Lafky said Monday. “He’s already complaining about livestock and other rural activities and he doesn’t have a campsite yet.
“I don’t think anyone … wants to be in the position of filing complaints or dealing with people who complain with activities related to agriculture,” Lafky continued.
But Kormondy argues he has done his best to mitigate the conflict by listening to neighbors’ concerns and reacting by doing things like reducing his design for the campsite from 28 to 15 and taking out septic systems in his design that would have supported bigger, RV-type camping.
Kormondy said he even helped the neighbor directly across from his property line clean up the land and sell his hog on Craigslist.
If anything, Kormondy said, more livability concerns are coming from Lafky’s property, where Kormondy claims people are littering, doing drugs and shooting guns.
“I listened to what the neighbors were saying, and I believe I’ve addressed them. I don’t believe (Lafky is) acting in good faith in what makes the county better,” Kormondy said.
No one has responded to any calls regarding illegal shooting or drug use at properties listed under Cramer Farms, according to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.
A hearings officer will issue a decision about whether the project can move forward later this fall.
— Reporter: 541-633-2160, firstname.lastname@example.org