A real estate listing of Richard McDougal’s ‘mini-Disneyland’ on 38317 Jasper Lowell Rd. featuring the home, miniature Western town, hobby barn and guest house.

‘Mini-Disneyland’ Without Any Permits

A home that resembles a private amusement park is at the center of a battle with Lane County for failing to apply for necessary permits before building on forest lands

Over the past several years, Richard McDougal has transformed his sprawling 50-acre Jasper home site with a small Wild-West-themed town — complete with a saloon, barber shop and a theater — on land zoned for forest use. The site has a treehouse with indoor plumbing and electricity, and an artificial lake with a fountain at its center. The site also has a short driving range, a putting green, a “sports court” for basketball and tennis, and a ski slope.

 The woodsy compound, according to one person who’s familiar with McDougal’s property, calls it a “mini-Disneyland.” 

Lane County calls it illegal.

County officials say as many as 11 structures McDougal has built on the site violate land use and zoning laws or were constructed on forest lands without proper permits. In May 2023, the county ordered McDougal to tear down the structures and obtain the demolition permits required to do so. He’s also facing unpaid civil penalties that could top $250,000. 

Lane County did not respond to EW questions before press time, but responded later via email.

The battle is now in Lane County Circuit Court, with county officials facing a July 25 deadline to respond to McDougal’s efforts to pay the fines. Mike Reeder, McDougal’s attorney, acknowledges that McDougal never got the required permits.

However, Reeder says his client applied for all necessary permits about a month ago and is still waiting on a response from the county.

Robert “Bob” Emmons, the president of LandWatch Lane County, a land use watchdog group, says the enforcement case against McDougal is a chance for the county to show that it is willing to enforce land use laws and zoning requirements, especially in environmentally sensitive areas. That’s not always been the case, he says.

“This has unfortunately given a bad reputation to the county in the past,” Emmons says. “Where the message has gotten out to people that, ‘Hey, why even bother to pay for a permit when no one’s really out there aware of what’s happening.’”

McDougal did not respond to Eugene Weekly’s requests for an interview.

State corporation records show McDougal, 57, is an owner or partner in logging, trucking and property management firms registered at the Jasper property. The site is the registered place of business for McDougal Hippodrome LLC, which records describe as an “activity center for family entertainment.”

LandWatch Lane County says McDougal is a relative of Melvin and Norman McDougal, Creswell-based real-estate developers known for controversial clearcuts, slash burns, wetland fill-ins and mining operations. 

Over a year ago, McDougal put the property up for sale, asking $1.2 million. But a potential buyer alerted the county to the lack of permits for the buildings, which also include a hobby barn, a guest house and a gazebo accessible only by catwalk. 

On May 23, 2023, county officials told McDougal his development violated land use law, including bans on building on lands zoned for forest use. Officials ordered him to tear down the structures in violation. In July 2023, the county issued a “failure to comply” notice to McDougal and imposed a $1,200 daily civil penalty that would grow every day until he complied. 

Earlier this year, McDougal appealed and lost before a county hearings officer. . County public information officr Devon Ashbridge writes to EW that current unpaid fines total $44,000.

In April, McDougal took the fight to Lane County Circuit Court, asking a judge to cancel the civil penalties. In his court filings, McDougal claims the county hearings officer made critical errors, misconstrued the law, and violated McDougal’s constitutional rights by issuing the civil penalties.

On behalf of the county, Ashbridge declined to say anything about McDougal’s appeal in circuit court, writing in an email that the county does not comment on pending litigation.

Reeder did not respond to EW‘s questions about why McDougal is seeking permits retroactively, the cost for these permits, the argument behind the fines unconstitutionality or McDougal’s familial relationship with the McDougal brothers, Melvin and Norman.

Emmons says he hopes the county continues to seek to hold McDougal accountable.

“If this fellow walks away from this,” Emmons says, “then that is a message to everybody out in the county that no one is accountable to the law.”

This story has been updated.