The headline in Tuesday's newspaper read, "Ruling puts brakes on Hyatt resort expansion." The brakes were properly applied. It is unfortunate they were not applied sooner, and that the expansion was allowed to proceed in the first place.

The headline in Tuesday's newspaper read, "Ruling puts brakes on Hyatt resort expansion." The brakes were properly applied. It is unfortunate they were not applied sooner, and that the expansion was allowed to proceed in the first place.

The owner of Hyatt Lake Resort, Campers Cove Resort LLC, managed to convince county planners that installing "park models" — essentially prefabricated cabins — in what had been a 22-space recreational vehicle park was not a major change in the use of the land. The company also wanted to add 13 additional spaces, but county planners said no.

Year-round residents of the Greensprings and Hyatt Lake area appealed the approval, and the resort owners appealed the denial of additional expansion.

Last week, Jackson County Hearings Officer Donald Rubenstein ruled that planners were wrong to approve the initial 22 units, and rejected the owners' request to add more. Rubenstein concluded that the "park models" were essentially permanent structures, not temporary recreational vehicles, and that the development poses a serious risk of wildfire and likely would overload the resort's sewage treatment system.

In all, 27 units have been installed, five of them without county permission. Many of the units already installed have been enhanced by large wrap-around decks — built without permits — cabanas and garages. They are placed as close as 7 feet apart, with 120-gallon propane tanks adjacent to each unit.

According to Rubenstein's 53-page decision, the park models are manufactured by Nor'Wester Industries, which is owned by an officer of Campers Cove LLC and his brother. The units are equipped with dishwashers, flush toilets, conventional showers and hot tubs. Although an individual unit is no larger than 400 square feet, in many cases two units have been attached to each other, creating much larger structures that sleep up to eight people.

Oregon's much-maligned land-use laws exist for a reason: to protect Oregon residents from development that may run counter to the public interest.

In this case, it is clear this project already has created something much more elaborate than anything that has existed at Hyatt Lake before. Judging by Rubenstein's findings, the units already installed have greatly increased the risk of catastrophic fire and likely will strain the limits of the resort's sewage treatment system.

Rubenstein acknowledged his ruling would be a financial blow to Campers Cove. What he did not say is that the owners could have prevented at least some of that pain by not proceeding with expansion for which they did not have permits.

Rubenstein's ruling can be appealed, but the Land Use Board of Appeals already has ruled in a case on the Oregon Coast that park units are permanent structures, despite the fact that the Oregon Building Code defines them as recreational vehicles.

Legislators should work to clarify that language in the Building Code, and county planners should look more closely at the real impacts of proposed developments.