Traffic, wildfire concerns raised for proposed Bend subdivision

A view down the fairway from the tee box on the sixth hole at Rivers Edge Golf Course in Bend. A subdivision proposed near the course has raised concerns about wildfire. (Bulletin file photo)

A proposed subdivision between O.B. Riley Road and Mt. Washington Drive is causing concern for some neighbors, who say the one road planned to get in and out of the neighborhood will complicate their ability to evacuate during a wildfire.

On Tuesday, a public hearings officer will evaluate an application from CMW Development Inc., to build 67 lots on about 14.5 acres of land off NW Hidden Ridge Drive. The project is near the River’s Edge Golf Course and is a few phases out of a larger master plan from 2004 to develop River’s Edge Village.

But about 70 people have written to comment on the project. The major concern is about the traffic that could come from everyone in the neighborhood driving on the one road out onto Fairway Heights Drive.

Some neighbors fear their area of town could repeat the tragedy of the Camp Fire, the fire in Paradise, California, last year that killed at least 85 people and destroyed 18,800 structures. Traffic gridlock has been cited as a reason Paradise was difficult to evacuate.

A fire lane is listed in the plans but is shown with a locked gate.

“The proposed project would add at the very least 67 more vehicles all needing to evacuate, at the same time,” David and Karan Gordon wrote in an email to the city. “We are aware there are planned locked gates, but are concerned that the person, or persons, that are capable of unlocking those gates may not be able to access those gates in a timely fashion. One only has to look at recent events (Paradise, California, for instance) to see how limited egress plays out in a fire.”

The Golf Palisade Owners Association also noted safety concerns in a letter to the city. The board argues Fairway Heights Drive is a private road that was not made for this amount of capacity, and was made with no sidewalks, curbs or streetlights.

Being by a river canyon also makes the neighborhood particularly susceptible to wildfire, the board wrote, and waiting for city emergency personnel to open a proposed fire gate for a second way out “is not practical in a rapidly expanding fire situation.”

“The Golf Palisades Owners Association … is not opposed to development at Hidden Ridge,” the letter states. “We are concerned that the change in density and layout previous not intended for this parcel will have significant effects on the safety of our neighborhood.”

The hearing will be held at 9 a.m. at Bend City Hall. A decision will be made by a hearings officer, and if it gets appealed, the proposed plan would go before the City Council.

— Reporter: 541-633-2160, bvisser@bendbulletin.com

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