Gravel Point: The Big Resort for the Small Town of Bandon

Bandon Beach Sunset. Courtesy Ian Parker/Evanescent Light

Bandon Beach Ventures is proposing a very large resort on 24.8 acres, just off Beach Loop Drive in Bandon. The vacant property is zoned for commercial development. The company proposes a 110-room hotel, with another lodge and other amenities including three meeting rooms, a lounge bar, dining facilities. The plans also include thirty-two additional villas/suites.

The company, in its application, prides itself on its “guiding principles,” including use of native plant species, leaving some of the site as wildlife habitat, “blending in with the land,” creating walking trails, and “gracious hospitality, with a goal to attract visitors with a high quality hotel with a resort atmosphere.”

To gain a conditional use permit, the company must meet Bandon’s conditional use standards. These include some substantive requirements. The company, which has the burden of proof, must show, among other things, that the characteristics of the site are suitable for the proposed use; that the public facilities and services have adequate capacity to serve the proposal and are available; and that the proposed use will not alter the character of the surrounding area in a manner to limit, impair or preclude the use of surrounding properties for uses permitted there.

Aerial photo of Gravel Point Resort Property. Courtesy City of Bandon

Unfortunately, the hearings before the Bandon planning commission in the Fall of 2023 can only be described as a shambles. The planning commission did not delve seriously into any of these issues, though there was substantial testimony from residents about the many ways the colossal resort is outsize for Bandon’s roads, traffic patterns and infrastructure. Instead, the planning commission apparently felt, as one member stated, that since this area of town was going to be developed eventually anyway, this proposal was as good as any. Discussion of the proposal was overwhelmingly shallow, focusing on insignificant details rather than the large, important questions about the resort’s appropriateness for Bandon.

Oregon Coast Alliance, in concert with many local residents, opposed the resort and provided testimony. The planning commission approved the project with very little substantive debate. Two appeals were filed: one by Oregon Coast Alliance, and the second by a local resident. City Council will hold hearings in 2024 on this huge project. ORCA hopes Council will look, closely at the proposal, and measure it against Bandon’s limited infrastructure capacities and the character and resilience of the surrounding neighborhoods.


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