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Complaints pile up against proposed private campground

By Tim Trainor

Blue Mountain Eagle

Published on June 30, 2015 9:44AM

Robert Ake has cleared part of his 19 acres located on Trafton Lane, preparing to open a private campground for motorcycle and bicycle riders. Neighbors have complained about Ake’s plan.

The Eagle/ Tim Trainor

Robert Ake has cleared part of his 19 acres located on Trafton Lane, preparing to open a private campground for motorcycle and bicycle riders. Neighbors have complained about Ake’s plan.

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A proposed campground geared to motorcycle riders has elicited complaints from neighbors, and will need to go before the county planning commission before it can open.

Robert Ake had initially planned to open John Day Motorcycle Campground at 59154 Trafton Lane on July 1, in time for the big Fourth of July weekend. He owns 19 acres of property there, and wanted to develop five or six acres into 25 tent camp sites and market them to motorcyclists and bicyclists riding through John Day.

But Ake quickly found out starting a business is not as easy as just hanging an open sign on the door.

After he made thousands of advertising flyers, joined the Grant County Chamber of Commerce and got in touch with cycling groups throughout the Northwest, Ake learned quickly that there were a few hurdles standing between him and operation.

According to Shannon Springer, secretary at the Grant County planning department, six neighbors have signed complaints against the proposed business.

Those complaints cited worries about increased traffic and noise, fire protection issues, how increased sewage and garbage would be handled, as well as the general incompatibility of locating the business in a residential area.

Ake said he has received copies of the complaints, and that he was disappointed his neighbors didn’t come to him first. He said there will be no motorcycle riding on the site, and no place for RVs or trailers to hook into electricity or septic services. He said for light travelers, his campground will offer a quieter, more private and more comfortable experience than the county fairgrounds. He hoped to soon be able to offer shower and bathroom facilities, but that would not be available immediately. He is working with the city of John Day to get additional water to the property, he said.

“I’ve been here for 20 years,” said Ake. “I’ve already lost one son (who had to move away to find work). I want to start something that can allow me and my family to stay here.”

Ake said after his initial advertising blitz, he received lots of inquiries, and believes there is a need in the area for a campground like the one he has proposed.

Those inquiries will have to go unfilled at least until August. Ake has been told that the business cannot open until it goes through the planning and zoning process and Springer said the August meeting is as soon as that can be completed. The process will begin at a meeting on July 14. People will also have the opportunity to testify for and against the project at that time.

—Tim Trainor is the interim editor of The Blue Mountain Eagle. He can be reached at ttrainor@eastoregonian.com.



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