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PORTLAND-The developer of a 1,400-acre motor speedway development off Interstate 84 in Eastern Oregon may yet get to develop a 250-room hotel adjacent the track, despite it being outside the nearby City of Boardman, it just wouldn’t ever be open to the public.

That’s the likely scenario following a hearing late last week in front of the commission controlling the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development. The hearing was prompted by department staff, which sought approval to appeal a Morrow County zone change that allowed the hotel, saying that in order to prevent sprawl the hotel should be within the city limits of Boardman.

The commission approved the appeal, which would be brought before the state Land Use Board of Appeals, but ordered the parties to engage in dispute resolution. DLCD spokesman John Mills tells GlobeSt.com that the developer, Racing Unlimited, is willing to operate the hotel as a private lodging facility for sponsors, the media and race officials only, pushing spectators to hotels in Boardman.

“We want them to point out in the record how they were going to make sure the lodging would only support race-related personnel,” says Mills. “They admitted not doing that until now.”

The likely result is an agreement that creates additional conditions for the lodging’s operation, including no advertising and no affiliation with a hotel chain. The conditions also could require the owner of the track to always be the owner of the hotel and that the lodging goes away altogether if the speedway for some reason shouldn’t pan out.

The CEO of Racing Unlimited is Adrian O’Brien, whose last name used to be Onufrei. The company’s spokesman is Stelian Onufrei. Onufrei is also the owner of the California-based Diamond 2000 Construction, the would-be general contractor for the development, the scope of which has shrunk in the past year.

In mid-2001, the project was to include two to three hotels, three restaurants, a shopping mall, a multi-screen movie theater, a game center, a gas station, an R.V. park and a possible truck stop. At that time, the project was estimated to cost upward of $350 million. Information was not immediately available what remains part of the plan, but the hotels are certainly no longer part of the picture and the same likely goes for the theater and most of the shopping mall.

If the dispute resolution process works, there will be no hearing before LUBA. If all parties do not come to agreement, oral arguments before LUBA would begin in about two months. The average LUBA appeal takes about six month.

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