CPO 1 News December 2021

fuel tank map

December meeting

Tuesday, December 14, 7-9 pm, via zoom

Why our water rates must go up

The Tualatin Valley Water District (TVWD) and Clean Water Services (CWS) will jointly present their inter-related services. After a short history of the water district, TVWD will summarize the “Historic Investment in Water for 2050” process that led to the Willamette River project/pipeline project and how that impacts our water rates; their Utility Payment Assistance process; and their educational offerings like water-wise gardening and how to reduce household usage. CWS will share background about Washington County’s water resource utility district and will demonstrate the value of their services for us.

Tom Hickmann, Chief Executive Officer and Paul Matthews, Chief Financial Officer will represent TVWD. Carrie Pak, Chief Engineer will also be present. Julie Cortez and Shannon Huggins will speak for CWS.

Before we begin that program at 8 pm, we’ll vote on CPO 1 Officers for 2022. Currently, incumbents are unopposed: Virginia Bruce, Chair; Bruce Bartlett, Vice Chair; and Vicky Siah, Secretary. Any CPO 1 member is welcome to announce their candidacy.

Following the election, we will consider a letter regarding Kenny Terrace/Thompson Road project. Neighbors at the November meeting asked if the CPO would write a letter to the Board of County Commissioners on this topic. We suggested they write the letter and bring it to the membership for a vote. They have submitted it, and we will discuss and vote on it tonight.

The meeting is held via zoom and is open to anyone interested in our topics and in the community. It is also simulcast on our Facebook page and available to view any time. If you don’t get the agenda either by postal or e-mail, it’s posted here, along with a link to sign up (on the left panel). Anyone who lives in CPO 1 is eligible to join as a voting member.

Tina Kotek for governor

CCI requests Planning Commission changes

Committee for Community Involvement (CCI) is the leadership group for all county CPO organizations. Noting that absences on the Planning Commission cause delays, both because of lack of a quorum and because of the time involved to bring new members up to speed, CCI is requesting that alternates be appointed for each position. They would be able to serve in the absence of commissioners and would be ready to step up if commissioners leave office. CCI sent a letter in late November to the Board of County Commissioners (BCC). We’ll let you know how the request progresses.

Development Applications

West Union Gas Station

A proposal to build a 10-pump gas station and a 5000-square-foot convenience store at the corner of West Union and 185th, with 52,000 gallons of underground fuel storage 80 feet from the adjacent protected wetland, has been submitted, withdrawn, and submitted again to Washington County twice since April 2020.

A hearing was held on November 18 so the county-appointed hearings officer could consider the application. We learned at the hearing that the developer asked for a continuance so they can address issues brought up by the public since the application was filed. A new hearing is scheduled for January 20, 2022, 9 am.

Materials for the application are linked from this county page. Public comments include concerns about the impact to wildlife living in the large wetland directly south of the proposed development; the potential for hazardous waste to escape the site and pollute the wetland, which connects to Bethany Lake; traffic concerns; air pollution concerns; the convenience store would be too big for the lot; the 10-pump station is too big to fit the “neighborhood commercial” definition; it is inconsistent with county environmental goals to reduce global climate change; safety issues for pedestrians including students who walk to Westview HS and Rock Creek ES; proximity to a floodplain; with the nearby Albertson’s 24-hour grocery, the store is unneeded; the requested variance to allow the larger store, which the developer says is necessary for their profit, is unjustified as it isn’t the county’s responsibility to ensure profitability; convenience stores attract crime; high potential for tank leakage that would damage the wetland and Bethany Lake (a gas station created a huge mess just this year—posted on the Oregon DEQ website).

Bethany resident Brandon Philips has developed an extensive website to provide information, resources, and a place for neighbors to gather to better understand and respond to this proposal. Visit this page to learn how to submit a comment before the next hearing.

Fuel tanks will be buried directly adjacent to the wetland, near the creek. (Image from the nabgas site)

While many people have expressed their opinions that the project is a terrible idea on its face, current county code doesn’t prevent it. The most likely way for the county to deny the application is through the variance request. Because the developer says they need the large “convenience store” to offset the low profit margin of fuel sales, they are asking for a five foot setback on the 185th side of the building, while the normal setback would be 20 feet. Philips says, “If the Hearings officer does approve the application with the variance I think it is very likely the community takes this to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA). The variance request hardship being profit is pretty egregious.” 

One other possibility is CDC 403-3 that allows for Type III applications to be denied when the “…public interest is not served by permitting the proposed development to occur on the proposed site at the proposed time.” This code section is rarely used, in part because it might subject the county to a lawsuit on Fourth Amendment “takings” grounds.

The project is in CPO7, but it has the potential to affect a large area, and many of us travel to and through that intersection.

Estates at Leahy Park and land use law

A development application has been filed with Washington County to divide an eight-acre property on NW Leahy Road and build 14 new homes. The property includes a large natural area and a stream. The county is currently under a remand from the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) regarding its rules about development around Significant Natural Resources (SNR), so we asked if this would apply to this development.

Stephen Shane, Principal Planner, Current Planning, responded,” The Leahy Estates application was submitted prior to the LUBA remand of Section 422. Staff made the applicant aware that our regulations addressing mapped SNR areas are under remand from the state and it may be in their best interest to supplement any resource findings they submitted with their application with broader findings that address Goal 5 directly.”

A bit of history

In December 2019, then CPO 4M resident Jill Warren petitioned the Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) to take action to force the county to come into compliance with statewide planning Goal 5 (protection of natural resources) by enacting new enforceable regulations to protect its identified SNR resources. Her initial concern had been a county Hearings Officer’s decision to approve a development in that area that would have destroyed an SNR area.

In May 2020 LCDC voted to impose an injunction on the County, prohibiting it from processing applications for developments in designated “Wildlife Habitat” until it came into compliance with state law by adopting new and enforceable regulations. The contention was that the county’s standards were not clear and objective, as required by Senate Bill (SB) 1051that passed in 2017.

The county adopted Ordinance 869 later in 2020 to comply with the LUBA enforcement order. A petition to LUBA was filed by Jill Warren and CPO 4M arguing that the county still was not in compliance with state law. LUBA remanded (sent back for further work) the ordinance in September 2021. In its remand, LUBA said, “we determined that three subsections of the [Washington County] CDC [Community Development Code] regulating the development of housing in SNR-mapped areas were unenforceable as not clear and objective.”

So basically, at this point, the county says they can’t really say if the development can be approved but they want the developer to work on its explanation of how it is protecting the resources (as far as I can tell!)

The development application will be available at the Cedar Mill Library. Ask at the reference desk to see it.

Neighborhood Meeting online rules

Based on concerns about several Neighborhood Meetings where participants were either unable to join at all, or had to join anonymously, Washington County is revising the guidance for developers in holding these virtual meetings. The BCC renewed the emergency declaration that allowed online meetings since COVID at their November 2 meeting, but LUT can change guidelines administratively. They are also considering making virtual or hybrid meetings a permanent option.

CPO 1 November Meeting Notes

by Vicky Siah, CPO 1 Secretary

This meeting video is available to view on the CPO 1 Facebook page here.

CPO 1 Chair Virginia Bruce started the November meeting with a land acknowledgement. CPO 1 recognizes that “we are here because of the sacrifices forced upon the Native people.” We intend to open every future CPO 1 meeting with this statement.

The CPO 1 Development Map is still being brought up-to-date, but if you’re curious about something happening in your neighborhood, check it out to see if we have the info!

Additionally, Virginia Bruce shared a development map project that Ian Siah is working on. This map showcases local road and property changes as well as when meetings occur. As the county makes changes to the area, the map will be updated to reflect new developments. 

The meeting continued with representatives of various community services providing updates. Kody Harris from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office reminded attendees to take in packages, lock cars, and keep garage doors shut during the holiday season. WCSO is working with neighborhoods to catch thieves and they encourage residents to make sure their homes and businesses are well lit.

Brian Yourstone from THPRD followed up with THPRD updates. This holiday season, community members can consider making a donation to help seniors pay for a monthly pass so they can enjoy the Elsie Stuhr center. Those interested can visit the THPRD website for more information.

Erin Wardell, Principal Planner for the Washington County Land Use and Transportation (LUT) department discussed the upcoming MSTIP funding cycle. There are four steps in the MSTIP 23-28 Funding Allocation Work Plan:

  1. Make the work plan
  2. Prioritize funding
  3. Design projects
  4. Construction of the projects

Currently, Washington County is prioritizing funding. Wardell describes MSTIP as a “pay as you go plan,” so projects can attain funding as funds become available. The project list is recommended by the coordinating committee, and the Board of Commissioners makes the final decision to approve or edit the list.

Next, we heard from Fran Warren on habitat assessment guidelines in relation to an injunction from LUBA prohibiting development on Significant Natural Resource areas.

Neighbors discussed the Thompson Road realignment project. Washington County will make the existing Kenny Road into the new alignment for Thompson Road by making changes to lane widths. As a secondary component of this project, the county is also proposing to expand sidewalks to 10-feet. This sidewalk expansion is not favored by the majority of those affected primarily because it would require the removal of 150 trees. The Kenny Road community is adamantly against the tree removal and have created a petition against the sidewalk project.