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FAQs

  1. What is the status of the Gorge Commission’s proposed Plan Amendment?
  2. What are the next steps for this project?
  3. What is the timeframe of this project?
  4. What approvals does this project need?
  5. Why did the Gorge Commission propose and approve the Plan Amendment?
  6. Why should development be allowed outside the existing urban areas?
  7. Won’t this be a new town?
  8. What is a “Resort”?
  9. How many people will use the site?
  10. Won't this set a new precedent for similar sites?
  11. Why does the proposed resort have to be so big?
  12. How much of the site is currently developed?
  13. What’s being done to address the RV problem?
  14. How will resort visitors cross the railroad tracks and highway?
  15. Will the units be for sale or rental?
  16. How much will the units cost?
  17. What’s the difference between the proposed cabins and cottages?
  18. How will the project benefit the local windsurfing community?
  19. What’s to prevent overcrowding at the hatch?
  20. How will this proposal enhance public recreation?
  21. Where would Broughton put their “designated” windsurf launch sites? Are these sites closed to the public?
  22. Why aren’t we using the “precautionary principle” for this project proposal? That is, thinking about impacts before we get to the planning stage.
  23. What would be the impacts of this proposal on the water resources (water table, recharge, aquifer, etc) in the area?
  24. How will effluent be treated?
  25. Will this affect water quality of the Columbia River?
  26. What’s being done to address railroad noise?
  27. Will we be able to see the buildings from the water and other Key Viewing Areas?
  28. Will Broughton be visible at night?
  29. What impact would the Broughton proposal have on local traffic?
  30. How is this project “sustainable”?
  31. Who is behind this proposed development?
  32. Will this ever happen?
  • What is the status of the Gorge Commission’s proposed Plan Amendment?
  • What are the next steps for this project?
  • What is the timeframe of this project?
  • What approvals does this project need?
  • Why did the Gorge Commission propose and approve the Plan Amendment?
  • Why should development be allowed outside the existing urban areas?
  • Won’t this be a new town?
  • What is a “Resort”?
  • How many people will use the site?
  • Won't this set a new precedent for similar sites?
  • Why does the proposed resort have to be so big?
  • How much of the site is currently developed?
  • What’s being done to address the RV problem?
  • How will resort visitors cross the railroad tracks and highway?
  • Will the units be for sale or rental?
  • How much will the units cost?
  • What’s the difference between the proposed cabins and cottages?
  • How will the project benefit the local windsurfing community?
  • What’s to prevent overcrowding at the hatch?
  • How will this proposal enhance public recreation?
  • Where would Broughton put their “designated” windsurf launch sites? Are these sites closed to the public?
  • Why aren’t we using the “precautionary principle” for this project proposal? That is, thinking about impacts before we get to the planning stage.
  • What would be the impacts of this proposal on the water resources (water table, recharge, aquifer, etc) in the area?
  • How will effluent be treated?
  • Will this affect water quality of the Columbia River?
  • What’s being done to address railroad noise?
  • Will we be able to see the buildings from the water and other Key Viewing Areas?
  • Will Broughton be visible at night?
  • What impact would the Broughton proposal have on local traffic?
  • How is this project “sustainable”?
  • Who is behind this proposed development?
  • Will this ever happen?
  • What is the status of the Gorge Commission’s proposed Plan Amendment?

    The Gorge Commission has amended the National Scenic Area Management Plan by approving Plan Amendment PA-06-01allowing development of Recreation Resorts on Commercial Recreation-zoned former industrial sites and the Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture subsequently concurred with the Commission’s action. Skamania County can now begin the process of revising its land use code to be consistent with the amended management Plan.

    Plan Amendment PA-06-01 was approved by the Columbia River Gorge Commission by a vote of 10-2 on April 8, 2008.  The Gorge Commission issued its Final Order regarding Plan Amendment PA-06-01on July 7.  As required by the National Scenic Area Act, the Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture formally concurred with the Gorge Commission’s Plan Amendment on October 8. The next step in the process will occur by mid-April of 2009 (within 270 days from the Final Order) by which time Skamania County must incorporate the Amendment language into the County’s land use code.  However, a lawsuit opposing the Plan Amendment was filed on September 5 by Friends of the Gorge is expected to delay action facilitated by the Plan Amendment.

    What are the next steps for this project?

    Now that the Gorge Commission has approved the Plan Amendment and the Secretary of Agriculture has concurred, the real work for converting the former Broughton Lumber Company’s mill site into an environmentally sustainable resort will begin.  The first required step is for Skamania County to incorporate the Plan Amendment provisions into the County’s Scenic Area Ordinance.  After this, the Gorge Commission must review Skamania County’s ordinance for consistency with the Management Plan as amended.  Following these steps, Broughton will be required to perform the impact studies and prepare the resort master plan and other mandatory submittals explained below under “What approvals does this project need?” including a series of detailed studies addressing potential impacts related to each phase of proposed development, an extremely detailed resort master plan for review and approval by Skamania County for compliance with the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA), County regulations, and National Scenic Area development standards.  Only when these steps are completed can Broughton apply for permits.  These steps will require the Gorge Commission’s successful defense of its Plan Amendment against a legal challenge by the Friends of the Gorge.

    What is the timeframe of this project?

    The project is still in the “pre-planning” phase, awaiting Skamania County to incorporate the Plan Amendment provisions into the County’s Scenic Area Ordinance. which is expected to be complete by mid-April 2009.  At least another year will be required for development of a Resort Master Plan application including numerous studies required by the amended management Plan and environmental review by Skamania County as mandated by the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA).

    What approvals does this project need?
    Now that the Gorge Commission has amended the Management Plan to allow recreation resorts on Commercial Recreation-zoned former industrial sites, the Broughton Lumber Company is required to submit a series of detailed studies addressing potential impacts related to each phase of proposed development.  These studies will be in addition to those mandated by the State’s Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) and address the following subjects: traffic; economic effects on surrounding communities and public service costs; utility engineering assessments addressing water quality; recreation inventory and analysis; assessment of effects on surrounding character; and a site analysis documenting existing conditions on the mill site.  For actual language on each of these mandatory studies, go here.

    In addition to these requirements, Broughton will be required to prepare an extremely detailed resort master plan for review and approval by Skamania County.  The amended Management Plan will require the resort master plan to include the following element-specific plans: land use; building design; landscape design; traffic circulation; roadway improvements; grading and drainage; infrastructure development; construction phasing, and; resource protection and enhancement.  For actual language on each of these required plans go here.

    Following Broughton’s resort master plan submittal, Skamania County will be required to evaluate Broughton’s resort master plan for compliance with the amended National Scenic Area Management Plan which also mandates a lengthy menu of resource protection measures and enhancements to scenic, natural, cultural and recreation resources as well as impact mitigation measures for utilities and public services. Skamania County will also review the resort master plan for compliance with local land use regulations including zoning, shoreline review, and building permits, all of which will require environmental review as mandated by the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA).  Compliance with this process would take at least one and possibly several years.
    Why did the Gorge Commission propose and approve the Plan Amendment?

    Industrial uses are not allowed within the National Scenic Area.  As an industrial site, the old Broughton Lumber mill is considered a discordant landscape feature and a visual analysis performed by the Forest Service determined that existing conditions do not comply with scenic standards.  Charged with protecting the Gorge’s scenic, natural, cultural and recreation resources, the Gorge Commission amended the Management Plan to provide incentives to bring the site into compliance with the Management Plan. 

    Why should development be allowed outside the existing urban areas?
    The Broughton lumber mill site is the only industrial site in the National Scenic Area zoned Commercial Recreation.  The site already heavily disturbed and developed containing more than 40 buildings and structures, totaling over 244,000 square feet in addition to 11.5 acres of pavement.  Allowing this former industrial site to be redeveloped would actually reduce the amount of development and improve scenic conditions at this high profile location.  An economic impact analysis previously determined that the economies of surrounding urban areas would be helped by the project, consistent with the second purpose of the Act. 
    Won’t this be a new town?
    No.  The Broughton Landing proposal is for a resort, not a town.  Unlike a town with its large numbers of permanent residents and jobs, Broughton Landing will be a relatively small scale resort with no expansion potential.  Broughton Landing’s site plan, architecture and amenities will be designed for vacation rather than residential use. Under the Gorge Commission’s approved Plan Amendment, all of the proposed cabins, cottages and town homes would be limited to part-time, short-term occupancy allowing unit owners no more than 45 days consecutive occupancy out of any 90 day period and jobs and business would be limited to those serving the resort and its guests.
    What is a “Resort”?
    Years ago, resorts were typically operated as hotels.  In recent years, escalating land values and skyrocketing development and operations costs have made hotel-based resorts economically obsolete, especially in highly seasonal locations such as the Pacific Northwest.  As a result, virtually all new resorts are comprised of, or include major components of for-sale real estate.  Cottages, town-homes, condos and condo-hotels are now the dominant form of resort projects, supported by amenities such as golf, recreation trails, spa/fitness centers, restaurants, retail, conference centers, and marinas.

    While the individual lodging units comprising today’s resorts are typically held in private condominium ownership, many resorts similar to what’s proposed for the Broughton site operate as commercial enterprises open to the public.  Indeed, the high operating costs associated with luxury service offerings like the previously listed amenities continue to be dependant on short-term guests whose nightly lodging revenues are used to offset the high homeownership fees charged to owners of units.  As a result, today’s resorts are essentially a hybrid real estate product combining the operational aspects of hotels and the ownership patterns of condominium developments.  Even if resort units are configured for residential use with kitchens, and some are occupied by their owners more frequently than guests, resorts like the proposed Broughton Landing are by no means “gated communities”. They are not set up for residential use but are leisure-oriented developments, catering to vacation travelers rather than residential use. 

    As required by local jurisdictions in compliance with state laws, many resorts prohibit permanent occupancy.  The Gorge Commission’s approved Plan Amendment would allow owners to occupy their units for no more than 45 consecutive days in every 90-day period. Coupled with the publicly accessible recreational trails, resort grounds, and dependence on short-term guests, these restrictions will further guarantee that Broughton Landing will be a very public destination.

    As shown in the table here, every Master Planned Resort in the state of Washington with expansion plans includes a for-sale real estate component.  
    How many people will use the site?
    At full build-out, Broughton Landing will contain approximately 570 bedrooms plus 36 campsites. Average annual occupancy will fluctuate seasonally between about 150 occupants in the winter to 490 resort guests and 50-75 campers during the summer. At maximum peak occupancy which will likely be limited to summer holiday weekends, the resort could be occupied by up to 855 resort guests plus an additional 90 campers.  The economic impact analysis estimated that average annual occupancy would be approximately 270 guests staying at Broughton Landing.

    Doesn’t this project have to comply with the National Scenic Area Management Plan like everyone else?

    Yes.  The owners of the Broughton site are required to comply with the Management Plan.  As the only industrial site in the National Scenic Area zoned Commercial Recreation, the Broughton site’s uniqueness presents a special challenge for the Gorge Commission which the Commission address through a Plan Amendment.  One of the reasons the Plan Amendment process was created was to address unique situations not anticipated when the Management Plan was originally approved such as changing economic conditions.  Even with the amended management Plan, the site’s owners will still be required to comply with the numerous stringent provisions of the Management Plan.  It is worth noting that the Gorge Commission’s Plan Amendment created far more onerous requirements on this site than any other parcel in the National Scenic Area. Specific examples of additional analysis and planning requirements required for Recreations Resorts can be found here and here respectively.

    Won't this set a new precedent for similar sites?
    No.  The Broughton lumber mill site is the only industrial site in the National Scenic Area zoned Commercial Recreation and the Plan Amendment only applies to Commercial Recreation-zoned industrial sites, thus no precedent applicable to other sites will result from the Plan Amendment.
    Why does the proposed resort have to be so big?
    The proposed count of 245 units is based on economic viability.  Given the significant cost of resource enhancements, site cleanup and redevelopment, the 245-unit proposal is the smallest possible that could succeed financially according to several financial analysis.  Of course compared to nearly every other resorts currently being developed or proposed in the Northwest, Broughton Landing is relatively small
    How much of the site is currently developed?
    The Broughton Lumber mill site contains over 244,000 square feet of building footprint.  Of course existing buildings occupying the site are mostly 30-40 feet in height, much taller than typical single story buildings.  If these buildings had second or third floors, the developed square footage of these buildings would be over a half million square feet.  Including buildings, the site contains about 11.5 acres of pavement. Existing site development is mapped
    What’s being done to address the RV problem?
    At the suggestion of Washington State Parks and the Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association who are concerned about user conflicts from RV parking at the hatch, an RV campground is proposed for the eastern end of the site.  To encourage use, pedestrian trails will allow access to beach areas and launch sites from the RV site.   
    How will resort visitors cross the railroad tracks and highway?
    Heavily used BNSF railroad tracks and State Route 14 cross the site, separating proposed redevelopment areas from each other and the Columbia River.  To connect these areas, pedestrian bridges and possibly a pedestrian underpass will connect both sides the railroad tracks.  State Route 14 will be crossed by a pedestrian bridge to Broughton Beach and an underpass to the Hatch.
    Will the units be for sale or rental?
    Like virtually all contemporary resort developments, the units will be sold to owners on a whole or possibly fractional basis and rented by the resort on a nightly or weekly basis when not occupied by their owners.
    How much will the units cost?
    As is typical of the real estate market, resort unit prices will be determined by the local real estate market at the time they are offered for sale.  Economic modeling for the project assumes a price range of approximately $300,000-400,000 per unit depending on size, finishes, and location.
    What’s the difference between the proposed cabins and cottages?
    Cabins will average 1,200 square feet in size with 2-3 bedrooms on one floor or with a sleeping loft.  Cottages will be limited to 1,600 square feet with 3-4 bedrooms on two levels.
    How will the project benefit the local windsurfing community?
    Because the Hatch is such a special windsurfing area, Broughton’s owners have pledged not just to protect recreation, but to enhance windsurfing.  Consistent with this pledge, Broughton has repeatedly sought the advice of local windsurfers and the CGWA in project design and is working with Washington State Parks to improve windsurfing.  As a result, the Broughton Landing has been designed to enhance the windsurfing experience from the very initial concept through the myriad of alternatives. Broughton Landing would offer a unique recreational experience, enhancing waterfront access, parking and facilities utilized by the windsurfing community.

    Fittingly, approximately 100 stalls of public parking are proposed for the north side of SR 14 connected to the Hatch by a pedestrian underpass.  This additional parking would not only improve public safety but also provide spectators a place to park outside of the Hatch.   Turnout lanes for improved traffic safety would also be required.  To facilitate transport of gear to rigging areas, gear dollies, lockers and other options will be explored.  In response to community needs, Broughton has pledged to address overcrowding of the Hatch by RVs.  The eastern end of Broughton Landing Resort would be developed as an RV campground connected to the Hatch.  The construction of the RV campground would be accomplished during the initial phase of construction to maximize the benefit to the windsurfing community.  In addition, a convenient general store/coffee shop/pub would provide the windsurfing community with a socializing spot and appropriate refreshments before and after sailing.   
    What’s to prevent overcrowding at the hatch?
    The Broughton Lumber Mill site was originally zoned Commercial Recreation due to its proximity to superb windsurfing and excellent potential for a recreation based resort.  Because the Hatch is such a special windsurfing area, Broughton’s owners have pledged not just to protect recreation, but to enhance windsurfing. For example, a private launch known as Broughton Beach located mid-way between the Hatch and Swell City will provide a launch site for the 30% of resort guests likely to windsurf.  In order to draw resort guests away from public launch sites at the Hatch, Broughton Beach will be more convenient and have superb launching and storage facilities for resort guests.  Because most sailors sail close to their launch, and most resort guests will launch at Broughton Beach, neither the Hatch nor Swell City are expected to see significant additional crowding from the resort. 

    Another important improvement will be public parking lot proposed for the north side of SR 14 connected to the Hatch by a pedestrian underpass.  This additional parking will not only improve public safety but also provide spectators a place to park outside of the Hatch.   Turnout lanes for improved traffic safety will also be required.  To facilitate transport of gear to rigging areas, gear dollies, lockers and other options will be explored.
    How will this proposal enhance public recreation?
    Under the Gorge Commission’s approved Plan Amendment, Broughton Landing will be required to enhance, not just protect recreation.  This requirement will include a detailed assessment of effects on existing recreation resources at and adjacent to the resort that evaluates existing site conditions, levels of use and recreation site capacity including parking, safety, river access, on-river conditions and potential changes in parking, traffic, public health and safety due to recreation resort development.  To enhance recreation, the developer will be required to provide new or expanded facilities that are open to the pubic, such as improvements to recreation user areas, new or improved access to recreation sites, parking improvements and other potential methods to reduce parking demand at adjacent recreation sites by resort guests, such as shuttles or parking restrictions, cooperative agreements with State Parks to address potential adverse impacts, and mitigation funds.  Development of secondary activities, such as spectator seating, development of recreational trails, interpretation sites and trails are also encouraged by the proposed Plan Amendment.

    Broughton Landing, USFWS, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Gorge Commission staff  have been working together to explore potential recreation enhancements on federally-owned land adjacent to the Hatchery State Park.  As a result of these collaborative efforts, State Park staff is interested in exploring the potential for expanding the park in order to increase waterfront recreation trails as well as possible launch sites for windsurfers and kiteboarders.  The concept being explored would be to move the current park boundary eastward to include much of the shoreline between the fish hatchery facilities and the lagoon.  If safety and administrative issues can be addressed, this would expand public access to the shores of the Columbia River by approximately one-half mile.  Following inclusion within the park, a new waterfront recreation trail and launching areas financed or partially financed by Broughton Landing's Conservation, Preservation and Recreation Fund would be built along the shoreline to connect the fish hatchery with the existing state park.

    Broughton has also proposed an extensive network of recreation and interpretive trails that will be open to the public.  Trails from the proposed resort will traverse the Gorge walls above the resort and connect to the shoreline of the expanded state park.  This trail network will roughly follow the alignment of the historic Broughton Lumber Flume and old roads.  If rights-of-way can be secured across nearby privately held lands, this trail network will traverse the Gorge wall, from Broughton Landing west toward Drano Lake then continuing north to the site of the former Willard Mill.  Interpretive signage will identify historic features such as the lumber flume along the route and spur trails along the route will access spectacular viewing areas and special natural and cultural features.  
    Where would Broughton put their “designated” windsurf launch sites? Are these sites closed to the public?
    Broughton Beach, the portion of shoreline owned by the Broughton Lumber Company is located mid-way between the Hatch and Swell City.  In order to draw resort guests away from public launch sites at the Hatch, Broughton Beach will be more convenient and have superb launching and storage facilities for resort guests.  Because most sailors sail close to their launch, and most resort guests will launch at Broughton Beach, neither the Hatch nor Swell City are expected to see significant additional crowding from the resort.  
    Why aren’t we using the “precautionary principle” for this project proposal? That is, thinking about impacts before we get to the planning stage.
    Since its inception two years ago, the planning for Broughton Landing has applied the precautionary principal.  The planning began with focus groups comprised of environmental and recreation organizations as well as resource agencies who have continued to provide oversight through the project’s Advisory Committee.  Even though a specific proposal won’t be presented to Skamania County for several months, the site has already been surveyed and mapped for natural resources, archeological resources, historical resources, visual resources, and numerous meetings have been conducted with State parks and the Columbia Gorge Windsurfing Association to address recreation resources.  These surveys and meetings have resulted in numerous revisions to the proposal along with the addition for vegetation guidelines and fire protection guidelines.  As part of its review of the project application, Skamania County will conduct stringent environmental review of the application as mandated by the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA).
    What would be the impacts of this proposal on the water resources (water table, recharge, aquifer, etc) in the area?
    The project would utilize ground water from an existing well located on-site. This existing well draws water from a deep, regional aquifer that ultimately provides flow to the Columbia River. According to a 1995 USGS report, ground water recharged from precipitation in more distant mountainous areas probably migrates towards the Columbia River, and discharges through upward flow beneath the Columbia River. Deep, flowing wells along the banks of the Columbia River, such as the Hatchery Well and the Broughton well, tap into this regional ground water system.

    Inasmuch as the Broughton well withdraws water from a broader regional aquifer system, it is unlikely to have adverse effects to shallower local wells that tap perched aquifer systems. It is anticipated that further hydrogeological testing will be conducted as part of the permitting process in order to ascertain that the well usage does not adversely affect nearby well users, including the Hatchery Well.
    How will effluent be treated?
    Broughton is currently considering input from the windsurfing and environmental communities on appropriate treatment systems to treat wastewater from the proposed resort.  Possible choices identified to date include either secondary treatment with UV disinfection with seasonal or year-round discharge or possibly Membrane Bioreactor Treatment with UV disinfection.  Either of these options will provide superior treatment to municipal systems such as those currently employed by cities such as Hood River and Cascade Locks. 
    Will this affect water quality of the Columbia River?
    Because wastewater treatment and disposal is heavily regulated by state and federal agencies, any potential water quality impacts will be reviewed and evaluated prior to approval of any master planned resort application. Stormwater impacts will be mitigated through the use of low impact development practices such as green roofs and porous pavement and detained and treated with biofiltration swales, wetlands, filter strips and other best management practices.
    What’s being done to address railroad noise?
    Two existing at-grade railroad track crossings will be eliminated and replaced with pedestrian bridges and possibly a tunnel.  Following this change, trains will no longer have to sound their horns, eliminating this significant noise source.  Sound walls lining both sides of the railroad tracks will be designed to reduce train noise and improve safety.
    Will we be able to see the buildings from the water and other Key Viewing Areas?
    The Broughton Landing proposal intends to honor the historic legacy of the former lumber mill by reusing a number of the existing buildings and structure comprising the site.  As a number of these are large buildings currently visible from the water and elsewhere in the Gorge, it’s likely that they will continue to be visible.  Proposed buildings will be generally smaller, screened with vegetation and set further back from SR 14 then the buildings being replaced but will still likely be visible or partially visible during portions of the year.  The site design and architecture of the future buildings will emphasize visual subordinance consistent with the Management Plan for the national Scenic Area.
    Will Broughton be visible at night?
    Exterior illumination of Broughton Landing will be minimal.  The Management Plan for the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area (Management Plan) requires that “exterior lighting be directed downward and sited, hooded, and shielded such that it is not highly visible from Key Viewing Areas. (GMA Scenic Area Guideline no. 15)
    What impact would the Broughton proposal have on local traffic?
    Local traffic impacts resulting from Broughton Landing will need to be studied during project review by Skamania County.  Access to the site is provided by SR 14, a Class 2 state highway with ample capacity for additional vehicular trips.
    How is this project “sustainable”?
    Broughton Landing will employ efficient use of land by clustering development within the previously disturbed former mill complex that occupies less than a quarter of the total site, preserving hundreds of acres as natural open space.   A number of existing buildings will be adaptively reused while others will be reinterpreted in new construction reusing building components from the site such as trusses and lumber.  Many new buildings including the cottages and cabins will feature such sustainable design features as green roofs, solar orientation, and evaporative cooling.  Natural resources will be protected by employing cutting-edge sustainable technologies such as waste water reuse for irrigation to minimize resource consumption and other low-impact development practices.

    Broughton Landing will also include a financial commitment supporting ongoing conservation efforts through a dedicated funding source.  This conservation fund will be supported by mandatory contributions of 1% of unit purchase price anticipated to generate nearly one million dollars of contributions.   In addition, subsequent sales subject to mandatory contributions of .5% of purchase price will continue to generate significant ongoing revenue for the fund.  This fund will be used to finance acquisition of additional conservation land in the Underwood Bluff and vegetation and wildlife restoration efforts on the property.
    Who is behind this proposed development?
    Broughton Landing is proposed by the Broughton Lumber Company, a local company based in Bingen Washington now in its fourth generation of family ownership.
    Will this ever happen?
    The Broughton Lumber Company which has owned the site for 80 years is determined to redevelop the long-derelict mill property.