A hearing examiner upheld the Klickitat County Planning Department’s environmental determination following a lengthy appeal hearing on luxury camping company Under Canvas’ plans to develop a “glampsite” near Husum, Wash. The hearing examiner concurrently approved the company’s conditional use permit.

The decisions come as a devastating loss for residents living on the two-lane, partially-graveled Oak Ridge road, who appealed the county’s determination.

Dennis White, one of the plaintiffs in the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) appeal, said he plans to regroup with fellow plantiffs, resident groups Friends of Oak Ridge and the Klickitat Land Preservation Fund and their lawyers to determine the viability of the next steps, which could mean a further appeal in Superior Court.

Among abundant testimony from members of the public and experts in different areas, the hearing examiner “completely ignored” the 40-plus comments asking for the denial of the conditional use permit and rescinding of the SEPA determination of mitigated non-significance, White said.

Among the testimony in opposition to the project, appelant experts testifying at the hearings asserted the road was not fit to handle the traffic increase and that the road was not wide enough to support evacuations and emergency personnel in the event of a fire. Appelants also charged that Under Canvas dropped the estimate of 8-10,000 gallons of water usage per day to under 5,000 gallons per day. The conditions tied to approval of the land use will force the company use less than 5,000 gallons per day or obtain proper permitting through the Department of Ecology.

Another condition applied to the project confirms that “all roads accessing the facility shall meet the Klickitat County Title 12 standards for a fire access road,” and that “roads serving the project shall meet AASHTO or Washington State Department of Transportation standards for a fire truck.” Dan McBrearty, chief development officer with Under Canvas said the company is committed to “funding the improvements of Oak Ridge Road, as required by Klickitat County Public Works.”

Public Works deputy director Jeff Hunter testified that the department would not sign off on the project unless Oak Ridge road would be widened to 20 feet in all areas.

Also of public concern was the potential impact the project would have on the habitats of the western gray squirrel. One condition withing the hearing examiner decision is for the company to have an updated survey performed of current habitats of the threatened species.

“Having just received all the approvals for the project, Under Canvas is now working through the conditions to ensure we are prepared for all final submissions,” said McBrearty.