A housing development is planned for a 28 acre parcel on the north east end of Conger Heights ridge known as Link River Estates. Home sites in the subdivision would allow homes to be built within the Link River Canyon, and the subdivision would be visible for a significant length of the trail. Controversy has swirled about this development, and KGF has opposed it because of its impact on the canyon as a whole. The development has been stalled by the economic downturn and no lots in the subdivision have been sold. The prospects of altering this development gathered momentum in 2011, but efforts by both KGF and the City of KF faltered due to the expense of an appraisal and other city interests. Property investors have added a water pumping facility since that time, adding additional hurdles to mitigating the impact of the development. KGF has put their efforts on this matter on hold for this time. Some of the facts and background are covered below.
Historically, the work to protect the Link River Canyon as open space date started in the early 1900s, when the entire west side of the canyon was donated to the city of Klamath Falls by the Moore family, for whom Moore Park is named. Much of the east side of the canyon, known as Conger Heights, was protected in the 1970s when Dr. George Nicholson purchased the land from developers. “More than 100 acres along the river have been preserved through the generosity of earlier residents,” said Eric Nelson, president of KGF. The City joined the efforts to protect the canyon by establishing a scenic easement covering the area in question in 1982 in accord with their Comprehensive Plan. It came to light in 2011 that the City Council significantly reduced that easement in 2006 to allow the subdivision. The Link River Estates was platted for 50 homes, and the work on a street and other improvements followed in 2007.
Comprehensive Plan Conflict
KGF feels that the Link River Estates development was inconsistent with goals and policies of the City’s comprehensive plan. Those points in conflict are listed below:
Goal 14. To conserve open spaces and protect natural and scenic resources.
Goal 15. To provide access to vista points of particular scenic and asthetic [sic] value to the maximum number of citizens.
Goal 16. To maintain scenic waterways within the urban area.
Policy 48. Upper Klamath Lake, Link River, and Lake Ewauna will be areas of critical scenic concern, and all actions relating to these bodies will be made in consideration of protecting and enhancing their scenic values.
Policy 49. Efforts will be made to preserve the open spaces and scenic values of hilltops and other similar promontories, including public access to them.
Proposed Vista/Interpretive Center
Through 2011 and 2012, Klamath Greenways has pursued conversations to protect the canyon, at times working with the City, Mortgage holders, and various community and regional agencies. A central interest was to pursue grants for the ultimate purchase of the property, (estimated at $1.7 million) with the intended future use of it as a Vista/Interpretive Center area. We garnered support from the City parks board and ultimately the City Council to proceed with the action of getting an appraisal as a first step in the process. The cost of doing an appraisal came in much higher than expected, and as the Mortgage holders invested additional funds in the property during this time, this action was mutually abandoned. The lots today remain vacant and unchanged.