A seasonal campground at Hyatt Lake has been illegally converted into a year-round, high-density recreational vehicle park, a Greensprings neighborhood group charged during a Jackson County public hearing Monday.

A seasonal campground at Hyatt Lake has been illegally converted into a year-round, high-density recreational vehicle park, a Greensprings neighborhood group charged during a Jackson County public hearing Monday.

"It has morphed into what I would call an immobile home park," said Medford resident Brad Inman, who formerly lived at Hyatt Lake.

The neighbors have appealed Jackson County planning approval of a limited expansion at Hyatt Lake Resort, which is operated by the same group as nearby Campers Cove. Owners of the resort, known as Campers Cove Resort LLC, also have appealed the planning decision, saying they are entitled to the changes they've requested.

The owners want to install recreational vehicles that resemble small cabins on 35 spaces, but county planners determined they actually are entitled to only 22 spaces that can have water, electricity and sewage hook-ups.

Hearings officer Dan Rubenstein is wading through 900 pages of planning documents as well as other evidence presented at the public hearing, which will be followed by a six-week rebuttal period. He is expected to make a decision by Sept. 25.

Bob McNeely, one of the resort owners, said he's already sold units that look like cabins on the 22 recreational vehicle sites and was in the process of selling four on the 13 contested sites when he got shut down by the county.

As a result, he's refunded more than $400,000 on two of the RVs and is in litigation over another. On the fourth RV, he said the owner is still hoping the county will change its mind.

Rubenstein said to McNeely, "You're in limbo."

He responded, "I've been in limbo since June of 2008."

McNeely has been given tentative approval for some of the changes he's requested. County planners supported expanding the deck off the restaurant, reconstructing the bait shop, reconstructing four cabins without kitchens, upgrading a shop building and upgrading a shower building.

McNeely wanted a total of 65 RV spaces at the resort, but dropped that number to 57 Monday. The resort is on his land and on land he leases from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Many of the RV spaces have only limited services.

The property is zoned "forest reserve" and the development on the property is considered non-conforming, requiring a higher level of scrutiny by planning staff. The owners also have to prove that any changes to the property don't have a significant impact on the surrounding neighborhood.

"Historically the use of the campground was as a campground," said Pamela Hardy, a Bend lawyer who represents the newly formed group Southern Oregon Citizens for Responsible Land Use Planning. "It was not a residential development as you have here."

Jay Harland of CSA Planning Ltd. of Medford, which represents Campers Cove LLC, said he had a hard time swallowing Hardy's argument.

"It was an RV park before and it is an RV park after," he said.

Much of the discussion revolved around the type of recreational vehicle Campers Cover was installing. Many residents said these small cabins are attracting people to the resort year-round rather than just seasonally. The cabins are sold, but the resort then rents them out for the owners.

Glenn Munsell, who lives on Hyatt Prairie Road, said the owners have already run afoul of county laws, pointing out that one manufactured dwelling has been placed on the property without permits. "It's presently being used as an office or administrative business," he said.

Planning staff confirmed that the building had been in violation of county codes. However, a storage permit was issued that allowed the owners to continue to keep the building on the property, but not use it for offices. But planning staff indicated the permit may have expired.

McNeely, who also is one of the owners of the company that builds the recreational vehicles on the property, responded to neighbors' complaints about sewage, water, fire hazards and other problems. His representatives also provided seven letters from surrounding property owners in favor of the improvements to the resort.

McNeely said his sewage- treatment operation and leach fields are more than adequate to handle the 35 RV's planned. According to regulations, he said he needs to have a facility that can handle 100 gallons a day from each RV. However, he anticipated each RV would generate only about 46.7 gallons, based on usage at his Brookings RV park.

He said Hyatt Lake Resort has adequate water, and he has reduced the fire danger by removing underbrush, cutting off tree limbs and having two fire trucks on site.

McNeely, who said he has no permanent residents at the resort, said his recreational vehicles have the same state stamp as any other RV. He said it doesn't make sense that neighbors would want $500,000 RV's driving up the mountain and pulling into his spaces, rather than having the units he's already installed.

"They're saying, we want you to put a Chevy in there, but we don't want a Cadillac," he said.

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 776-4476 or dmann@mailtribune.com.