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Dee concert venue generates a buzz

People respond with positive and negative feedback on proposed amphitheater

THE DEETOUR amphitheater planned for the site of the old Dee lumber mill will feature an 8,500-square-foot stage and pavilion (depicted in the bottom drawing submitted to the county), lawn seat-ing, a food cart commons area, and parking for approximately 3,100 vehicles.


THE DEETOUR amphitheater planned for the site of the old Dee lumber mill will feature an 8,500-square-foot stage and pavilion (depicted in the bottom drawing submitted to the county), lawn seat-ing, a food cart commons area, and parking for approximately 3,100 vehicles.

In the Jan. 29 edition of the Hood River News, we ran a story about the DeeTour development: a concert venue proposed for the site of the old Dee lumber mill that is projected to draw upwards of 5,000 people for its larger events.

Response from our readers has been swift and voluminous, who posted on the News’ online and social media platforms, as well as calling, dropping by, and sending letters to our office. Some showed concern over — or outright opposition to — elements of the proposal. Others showed support for the project. As of press time, a poll on the News website indicated public opinion on the issue was fairly polarized, with 97 votes in favor of the proposal, 90 against, and 4 indifferent.

What’s the word on the web?

“I hope that if this moves forward, it is done tastefully and respectfully of the many families that live there.”

“The bottleneck of Lost Lake Road, and essentially cutting residents off from coming and going because of all the traffic, should be a great concern and not blown off.”

“Please go forward with this plan and know that some of us can still see the bigger picture of opportunity for all.”

“I live in the area because of the natural peace and tranquility and I don’t want that ruined for a modern day Woodstock.”

“I believe the traffic and noise factor would be on par with that of a lumberyard, except in this case it’s supporting performing arts.”

“Revenue yes, towards the whole community, but how does it change living conditions, including taxes and home values?”

“I’d love a concert venue, but Dee is the wrong place.”

In addition to the News, many also contacted Hood River County Community Development with concerns over the lack of public notification about the development and the fast-approaching Feb. 3 comment deadline. The News did not receive any legal notice about the proposal.

Principal Planner Eric Walker explained that the Dee mill site is zoned industrial, that both commercial and industrial uses are “allowed outright” by law on industrial lands, and that “county ordinance doesn’t require public notification for an outright use.”

That being said, Walker noted that the preliminary project documents had been sent out to multiple public agencies for input (the date on the cover page of the packet says Jan. 17), including Parkdale Fire, Oregon Department of Transportation, Oregon Fish and Wildlife, and the Hood River County Sheriff, along with a dozen more.

Walker also mentioned that even though the public didn’t have to be notified, they were welcome to submit comments on the proposal by Feb. 3.

“We won’t disregard comments from the public just because they’re not a public agency,” he assured.

Walker said he had heard multiple concerns from the public about the project’s potential impacts.

“The big ones we’ve been hearing are traffic, noise concerns, and environmental concerns, because they are right next to the river,” he said of the development. “Frankly, we share this same concern, which is why we sent this out to public agencies.”

When asked if the county would consider extending the comment period, Walker responded that “unless requested by the applicant or an affected public agency, we have no plans to extend the comment period.”

In addition to general comments about DeeTour, the News also received comments from people who wanted more information about potential impacts caused by the development. Some of the areas of concern are listed below.

Traffic: The story mentioned the venue would have 3,095 parking spots and that the venue would target concert audiences between 3,000 and 5,000 people. Those numbers caused many to voice their concerns about the traffic impacts those cars would have on the two-lane Route 281 (Dee Highway), as well as Lost Lake Road.

According to preliminary project documents, “traffic controllers will be placed at the multiple entrances to our parking areas to ensure that we get automobiles off of Lost Lake Road as fast as possible, eliminating the possibility of backup onto Dee Highway.” It was also noted that traffic controllers would alternate between stopping traffic on Dee Highway and stopping traffic on Lost Lake Road.

The proposal also mentioned that DeeTour “will partner with the Mount Hood Railroad to allow patrons to board the train in beautiful downtown Hood River and then take a scenic trip up the Hood River Valley to an event. Parking for the train will be handled in the City of Hood River, lowering the automobile traffic to and from the event.” The railroad runs right next to the proposed site of the venue.

Noise: The county requested information about how the venue would comply with the county noise ordinance. According to the project documents, a site is considered out of compliance with the county’s noise ordinance if noise levels within 20 feet of a “noise-sensitive facility” exceed 55 decibels between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. and 65 dB during all other hours. A noise-sensitive facility was identified as a dwelling, school, church, hospital, or a public library.

According to the study, an outdoor music concert can produce a sound level of 110 dB at its point source. The study also uses a mathematical formula to calculate the drop in noise levels over distance — a 6dB decline with every doubling of distance from the source, assuming no obstructions. Project documents indicated at 2,000 feet away from the venue, noise levels would drop to 44 dB (less than the noise level of a “quiet office,” according to an Occupational Safety and Health Administration chart) and the nearest noise-sensitive structure identified is 2,048 feet away, which would put the venue in compliance with the county noise ordinance, according to the study. Additionally, it was mentioned that “the site is also a natural amphitheater that will refract rather than amplify noise.”

Jobs: Taylor mentioned there would be a number of jobs supported by the venue, both seasonal and year-round, including opportunities for food vendors to sell their products, workers needed for traffic control, event staff, and a variety of other positions. However, he did not provide an estimate as to how many jobs DeeTour might create.

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nsmith 7 months ago

I think this is a bad idea with not a lot of thought of how this will impact the neighbors of the dee mill. I did not move to the upper valley to be in ear shot of a concert venue. And the amount of cars on the Dee Hwy is just a huge problem waiting to happen. What really makes me upset is the fact that they tried to slide this under the radar. Giving the public just a few days to comment! And the planning dept. was closed 3 out of the 5 days to do so. I am all for smart growth in the Hood River Valley, but this does not seem like the place for a project this size. I wonder how the planners/developers of this would like concert venue next to their home...

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nickeby 7 months ago

Eric Walker's information is eric.walker@co.hood-river.or.us or 541-387-6840.

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shadowjade 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Love the idea. Won't be any noisier than the mill was, most of the time would be quieter... and it'd be great to see something positive on that property.

Those of you having tantrums because it would "spoil your enjoyment" of the land you moved here and practically stole as you pushed out REAL locals... y'know, you can always go back wherever you came from and stay there, and we sure the heck would NOT mind. In fact, we've been vocal about wanting you to for at least a couple decades!

Oregon - a nice place to visit. But for G's sake, please DON'T move here.

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Cris22 6 months, 3 weeks ago

The noise factor is actually a small concern compared to the people that will be getting hammered watching their favorite artist up on the stage. This plan basically adds a whole bunch of drunk drivers to that winding, unlit road. Don't believe me? Go sit outside any concert venue and watch the intoxicated folks speed away in their cars after a concert (Many are drunk, stoned, or worse).

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kadunn 6 months, 3 weeks ago

shadowjade-pretty inconsiderate statement to make since my husband was born and raised here and lived here his whole life and DOES NOT agree with the project. For one , traffic being a major concern , about 3,000 to 5,000 cars during any given day in summer. or the fact that they have no plumbing and would need an abundance of porta potties. imagine that smell. now try to imagine its on your street or down off a street you live on and you had no say about it . My guess is you wouldn't like it either. try to be a little more considerate of the citizens that will have to deal with this project in their faces all summer/spring long.

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myhome 6 months ago

I have lived here for 45 years and this Dee Tour idea is a terrible.I do not believe that anybody that lives within 5 to 10 miles supports it.The only people supporting it are those who will profit from it and those who do not live in the effected areas.It's not the noise and it's not the river(there is still junk lying in the river from the old mill)The problem is traffic.All it takes is one overly cautious driver(driving well below the speed limit)to turn a 15 to 20 minute drive into a 30 to 35 minute drive since Dee hwy is only a 2 lane road with very limited passing opportunities.Also when there is an accident the road gets shut down and then you will get DEE TOURED back to either Parkdale or Odell so you can start your trip over again.I have seen changes to our roads in my lifetime and most of them make me wonder what the heck they were thinking,examples(odell junction & hwy 35)(odell hwy & dee hwy at tucker bridge)(country club road)They want to target between 3000 to 5000 people with parking for 3095 vehicles,There is no way on earth that dee hwy can handle even half of the 3095 vehicles for a single event,then your going to have multiple trains crossing dee hwy stopping traffic there also.WE would haft to completely rebuild dee hwy making it straighter and add a full lane going north from Dee for when everybody tries to leave at the same time.Lets just say this isn't going to PENCIL out(cost)just so a couple of people can fill their pockets with cash and their seasonal employees to work minimum wage jobs.If this project was right next to interstate 84 the chances of managing traffic would be greater.If this project was along side HWY 35 somewhere?would be a small challenge but manageable.Dee HWY is like the worst place in the world for something of this magnitude.Maybe Mt hood Meadows should have used this plan instead of adding another parking lot,even it would have been a better choice than sending everybody into a confined space.It really gets on my nerves and of many others also that many people are telling us what to do with our home and in our own back yard and that we don't know what is good.Stick this thing in their back yard.

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