SB 1573Public Testimony file #PC17-08 March 12, 2018
Dear Mayor and Philomath City Councilors,
I’m here tonight neither in support or opposition to PC17-08 Chapel Drive annexation. I want to address the integrity of City’s policy on annexation applications.
Corvallis’ citizens changed their City Charter 40 years ago allowing them to be more involved in future growth and costs by voting on annexations. The City of Corvallis advertised they would hold a public hearing Monday February 5, 2018 to consider changing the City’s policy and criteria on annexation applications. I and many other citizens from Philomath and Corvallis testified urging Council to honor their City Charter allowing annexation voting and not disenfranchise citizens by denying their right to vote on annexations.
Because community development raises many concerns about population growth, costs of services, public debt and much more this hearing drew a large crowd. As usual real estate development interests lobbied the Corvallis Council to limit public involvement in community development and leave all community development decisions to the discretion of council. Many citizens pleaded for the Mayor and Council to honor its 2016 proclamation to reject SB 1573, since it illegally amends city charters, and to continue its court challenge to Senate Bill 1573.
Several citizens urged Council to respect land use planning Goal 1, citizen involvement, and allow the citizens to continue to vote on annexations as authorized in the city charter.
The public testified in good faith believing that the Corvallis City Council would consider legitimate concerns often ignored by planning law especially calculating the full range of costs and benefits of an annexation and including them in annexation criteria.
After the hearing the Gazette Times reported that certain Councilors believed a court order removed the voters from the annexation process. That is not true, the Benton County Circuit Court issued a ruling not an order and that ruling is currently on its way to the court of appeals.
Instead, despite the citizen testimony to the contrary, Council decided that all future annexations would be decided by them and not by their fellow citizens.
None of those who testified knew that on January 29, one week before the Corvallis hearing, the Philomath City Council voted in executive session without public oversight to reject its charter allowing citizens to vote on annexations and instead only Philomath Council would decide all current and future annexations.
This information about Philomath Councils “closed door” meeting did not become public until published in the Philomath Express Feb. 7th 2 days after the Corvallis public hearing. Apparently both Philomath and Corvallis Councils had already decided that the February 5th Corvallis public hearing would follow Philomath’s lead and deny the right to vote no matter what the testimony would be. The outcome had already been determined.
Both Corvallis and Philomath confirm the suspicions that elected officials care little about the local control citizens have especially over their city charters (local control). Either by closed door sessions or sham public hearings these city councils were determined to ignore the State constitution and their citizens. Both Corvallis and Philomath do their citizens a disservice with behavior like this.
Is there any doubt that the legitimate concerns of those giving testimony in good faith tonight will have any impact on your pre- arranged decision to approve the #PC17-08 Chapel Dr. annexation?
Why waste everybody’s time with a hearing?
People who choose to defend our city charters should not be viewed as disruptive or disloyal, after all, this is THEIR COMMUNITY!
Jeffery R. Lamb
As I See It: Defend city charters against SB 1573 by JEFF LAMB and RICHARD REID February 1, 2018
Two recent news stories in the Gazette-Times say that the Corvallis City Council has scheduled a public hearing to consider withdrawing from its court challenge to Senate Bill 1573, which outlaws the public’s right to decide how their community grows and who pays for that growth.
Corvallis’ charter, changed by Corvallis citizens 40 years ago, requires that all annexations (except for mandated health hazards) be approved by the voters. At one time, 34 cities had similar charter provisions modeled after the Corvallis citizens' charter amendment.
The Oregon Constitution states that the Legislature can pass no law that changes a city charter and that city charters are the sole domain of the registered voters of the local jurisdiction. Oregonians call this “home rule and local control." The League of Oregon Cities last year, in one of its monthly publications, ran a cover story on “Home Rule: Why it Matters.” Simply put, people in our state want to manage their own community affairs and not have that right taken away from them by the Legislature.
For 40 years, our constitutional right to use our city charters to influence community development has survived repeated challenges in the Oregon Legislature and courts. Communities like Corvallis avoid ill-conceived annexations by voting on them. But SB 1573 gave the Legislature the authority to amend our city charters for any reason, but especially to deny voting on annexations if that right is in a city charter or a city ordinance. SB 1573 effectively means the Legislature can pre-empt, amend, repeal or revoke any city charter or provision for any reason.
Oregon Statewide Planning Goal 1 leaves no doubt about “citizen involvement” and for communities to “develop a citizen involvement program that insures the opportunity for citizens to be involved in all phases of the planning process.” But SB 1573 requires cities to bypass Goal 1 by authorizing only city councils to vote. If councils approve an annexation, SB 1573 requires them to bypass citizen input and immediately adopt annexations into city comprehensive plans.
Until it is settled in court, the real estate and development measure SB 1573 has trumped a century of Oregon constitutional authority granting citizens local control of city charters.
The cities of Corvallis and Philomath are currently suing to defend their city charters, so it is disturbing that Corvallis has scheduled a public hearing Feb. 5 to consider withdrawing from the court challenge.
All parties involved in this historic court challenge to legislative overreach know that it will be decided by the Oregon Supreme Court, not lower courts. Nothing new here. This case has far-reaching statewide implications as to whether Salem will determine future growth issues against the will of the people.
The only question before Corvallis and all Oregon cities is whether they believe their charters are worth defending.
Jeff Lamb, a longtime Philomath business owner and community activist, is the founding president of Oregon Communities for a Voice in Annexations, which promotes and protects citizens’ rights in land-use issues. Richard Reid of Salem is co-chair of Oregon Communities for a Voice in Annexations.
Attacking the annexation myth March 5, 2018
To The Editor,
I wish all Benton County residents could have been at the meeting of the Corvallis City Council on Feb. 5. There was powerful testimony from the League of Women Voters, regarding the ongoing battle over whether citizens should continue to have the right to vote on property annexations.
Here's one small piece:
"It is a complete myth" that voters in Corvallis are anti-annexation. There have been 44 such votes and 40 have been approved by the voters. Although I don't have the stats on the annexation votes in Philomath, but I would bet it's about the same. In the two-and-a-half years I've lived here, only one annexation has been voted down. And the league of Oregon cities sites data that shows over 90 percent of annexations that are decided by voters, in communities across the state, are passed.
So, if there are plenty of annexations approved, and it's not the voters that are the problem, what is the problem?
The problem is that developers don't build affordable housing. Just go and look at the monstrosities on Sylvia, near West Hills Road. Those developers were granted a zone change in order to build “affordable housing.” But instead they built mansions.
Why do developers do this? Because there is far less financial risk with mansions than lower cost homes. If they don’t sell all the homes, with mansions they still make a profit and with affordable housing, they would not. It appears that if we want affordable housing in our area, we will need much tighter contracts with developers, and we may need to do the thing almost no one wants to do, compromise with subsidies and/or guarantees.
But to go back to my main theme, voting rights are precious, and they are under attack all over America, for reasons of political gain, power shifts, and profiteering. If our democracy is to be preserved, we must resist any restriction upon our right to vote on any issue or candidate. To borrow from a well-known phrase, "an attack on voting rights anywhere, is an attack on voting everywhere."
Arguments against the Chapel Drive/Applegate annexation (Lowther property)
Lowther property will be legally developed at a higher residential density, increasing starting density from: 660 houses within these 110 acres. Traffic issues and water use increases begin year one, to continue for ten plus year’s.
City Hall and residents expect construction road wear, and to safely live with construction traffic, increasing levels of air pollution, noise for 10+ years.
Traffic increases from annexed site will impact drive time and add local residential neighborhood traffic speed and volume increases.
For the first subdivision, developers rely on multiple City land use, infrastructure plans that are being revised.
City Water Master Plan - revised 2005.
Subdivision requests will not be reviewed by City Council, only Planning Commission which excepted a commissioner who currently is part of: “Philomath Citizen’s for Prosperity and Development”(PCPD).
After vote, residential density increases on annexed site will be out of ‘Voters’ control.
The annexation proposal is non-binding of your vote, for any set residential density zoning.
Residents would have to appeal, at Planning Commission’s land use hearing’s, and for each appeal, for each subdivision, pay fees to move a land use case on Appeal to City Council level.
Density increases here could set legal Planning Commission standard for future subdivision’s.
Taxes will provide a modern water treatment plant and probable water storage tank. Home buyers System Development Charges will help support costs of development infrastructure in the annexation area.
Vote no on measure 2-102.
Pay attention to water issues - a letter from a Corvallis neighbor
I first want to thank the Corvallis city government for backing the citizens of Corvallis by challenging the state on Senate Bill 1573, the bill passed this summer which took away citizen rights to have a voice in annexations of land to a city. That citizens of over 30 cities in Oregon have had their right removed to have a say in how cities are developed is a serious affront to individual rights and civic participation.
Invested citizens understand and experience how resources like water are affected by development. The citizens of Alpine, Monroe and other south Benton County areas have voiced their concerns over their wells going dry and taking longer to recharge after dry summers like we have just experienced. As the areas of south Benton County have started to experience water issues, we also hear from the state that they are not clear about why this is occurring. How concerning.
As climate change affects all of us, we ought to make sure water resources are evaluated first before any development is considered.
Philomath is about to vote to approve annexation of a large tract of land for 600 plus new homes. Philomath residents have voiced concern over congestion and water. The developer has not evaluated water resources. There is excellent science about the negative impacts on water from continued urbanization. We all ought to pay attention to that. Without water we will not have anything.
Therese S. Waterhous
Annexation plan is problematic
Traffic on Highway 20 between the town of Philomath and on into Corvallis has become a real problem. The roads are so choked with cars that there are frequent stand-stills several times of the day! Imagine what it would be like if Philomath voters approve the Lowther annexation.
This annexation will add 660 homes or 1,788 people to the town of Philomath, as proposed by the developers. In fact, the annexation could well add a whole lot more people than that (once the annexation passes the developers would not have to stick to their proposals).
Right now there are 4,650 people living in Philomath. The Lowther annexation would dramatically change the nature of our roads and our lives.
Annexation Would Harm Schools October 19, 2016
Philomath Voters, please don’t fall for the developer’s claim that the Chapel Drive/Lowther housing development will be good for schools.
A total of 660 new homes at the national average of 0.67 children each = 442 children. More students will come from housing developments that are not yet built-out. For example, Starlight Village has 100 empty lots. In addition, this month the Philomath City Council is processing petitions for 2 apartment-housing projects.
The extent and magnitude of these changes will destroy Philomath’s character and unique status as a town with small schools, where our children have access to one-on-one teaching, and all can participate in programs and extra-curricular activities.
Class sizes at all Philomath schools are already larger than the national average.
More children = more state funding. However, experience shows us that expected state funding would not cover the higher expenses for teachers, administrators, facilities, and equipment. Ask current school administrators!
By law, developers’ fees cannot be used to expand schools. Therefore, Philomath taxpayers would foot the bill for additional staff, facilities and equipment.
Join us in voting for sensible growth in Philomath.
Vote “NO” on City of Philomath Measure 2-102.
Steve Cyr and Peggy Cyr
Philomath residents need to vote NO on Measure 2-102, the Chapel Drive annexation. Please ask yourselves this question- will the annexation and development of 660 homes on 150 acres improve your life? Will it reduce your taxes? Decrease traffic? Enhance your children’s school experience? In reality this will increase the population by at least 40%, increasing traffic on an already congested highway and stress our fragile water resource. The risk of rezoning is likely and could result in apartments, accelerating growth even more.
The negative impact of this massive development becomes personal to all of us as we drive on the highway and surrounding roads. The reality is that we are affected by ALL of the explosive growth in the area. There are also numerous student complexes planned for Philomath and the nearby area at this time.
Do we want Philomath to continue to become a bedroom community for Corvallis and accommo! date the population spillover without really benefitting the current residents? We would like to maintain a unique community with it’s wonderful qualities.
Be aware that once annexation occurs the process does not prevent bad decisions and history proves that developments go forward regardless of inadequate resources, improper planning and safeguards.
Philomath can and should grow but this growth needs to be defined as sensible and positive. It should not be a burden to current and future residents. It should have adequate resources, commerce, jobs. It should enrich our lives.
Please vote NO on Measure 2-102.
Supporters of Measure 2-102 (the Chapel Drive Annexation), have sent a mailer that may mislead Philomath voters.
It warns readers to "Be skeptical of the ‘Grow Philomath Sensibly’ PAC and their ‘not in my backyard agenda’” So, who are the members of Grow Philomath Sensibly that residents should be doubtful of? These people are simply your neighbors, and this proposed enormous development is INDEED in our backyards!
Grow Philomath Sensibly is made up entirely of local residents. Some have lived in Philomath for decades. What all members have in common is a deep appreciation for our gem of a town, with its friendly and safe neighborhoods, green vistas, and excellent schools.
Members of GPS, on a purely unpaid voluntary basis, are donating their time/resources to protect Philomath from consequences of housing developments that will overburden existing infrastructure, are too expansive, have no established viable plan to support their existence, will result in higher taxes for all residents, and are designed to benefit out-of-town developers and special interest groups.
Grow Philomath Sensibly is for controlled, thoughtful growth, in which residents have substantial input. There are many people who would be content to see the 159 acre parcel divided into 5-acre parcels for single-family homes to be built on each. The large-scale build-out outcome if the Chapel Drive Annexation passes, would rest solely in the hands of politicians and out-of-town developers. Do you trust them, or do you trust your neighbors to know what’s best for the vitality and sustainability of Philomath?
Vote NO on Chapel Drive Annexation Measure 2-102
Some Philomath residents seem to blindly trust that City Council will protect their interests if the Chapel Drive/Lowther annexation is approved.
Please don’t be naïve. Time and again, I’ve seen city leaders fail to complete prudent studies before backing development, or fail to do critical long-term planning.
For example, when the newer houses on Neabeack Hill were proposed, hydrologists and other scientists testified about the risks of erosion and wet basements. City Planning Commission voted 5 minutes later, ignoring the experts’ predictions. Now those warnings are coming true.
As another example, 30 years ago, Philomath almost lost its city charter because it was in dire straits over water supply and sewage treatment. We were able to build a new facilities, but only because the water & sewer commission and volunteers convinced voters to pass bond levies.
Fast forward to 2016. Philomath leaders have had decades to secure an adequate water supply and other resources for population growth, but nothing has been done.
It was irresponsible for the Planning Commission and City Council to send this annexation to the ballot without insisting on studies about its impact on water, traffic, schools, public safety, and more.
Ignoring data seems to be a pattern as well as ignoring the fact that this annexation was voted down twice by large margins.
Experience with other Philomath sites suggests that if the annexation is approved, the Planning Commission and City Council will not necessarily consider voter input while planning for housing.
Philomath can and should grow, but the growth needs to be sensible. Development should be well-planned, not explosive or densely compressed into 2 parcels of land. It should not create a burden to current and future residents. It should be based on adequate resources, commerce, and jobs. It should enrich our lives.
Beware—once land is annexed, the voters lose all control. Anything can happen. Voting No is our safety net. Please vote NO on Measure 2-102.
Some Philomath citizens want to pay more taxes! Amazing! I am unhappy at being unable to vote on Measure 2-102, the Annexation of Chapel Drive. I LIVE on Chapel Drive, and would be directly affected, but I live on the south side of the road, outside the city. I am not in favor of having this huge development on my street, but I get no say in the matter.The annexation puts 110 acres now owned by an individual inside the city limits; the owner can then sell the land to a developer. The developer proposes to build 660 houses on that land. That would put 440 new kids in the schools, add about 1200 new cars, and necessitate spending millions on upgrading and expanding the public water system and septic treatment plants, as these houses would be on city water and city sewer. What amazed me is some Philomath residents said they were voting yes, because they are pro-growth. So, not only are they willing to give up their small schools, always a source of pride in Philomath, add to the burgeoning traffic issues, and add a huge new subdivision, they are WILLING TO PAY FOR ALL THE UPGRADES TO THE CITY SERVICES that would be required. They would have to if the land becomes part of the city. All those millions which the property owner would have to pay for the development would now come from taxes. Bravo pro-growth citizens!! You rock!
Annexation is premature
The Chapel Drive Annexation should be voted down until a community impact study is done. Then we can look at the best plan for Philomath instead of leaping at money.
In fact, that study should have been done before the developers’ plan was approved by our “city fathers.”
As an example of community impact, no one is disclosing the enrollment numbers that the school system can handle. Will we have to build a new school with tax dollars or not? How much does it cost to educate one student, including facility upkeep?
Sometimes I think that schools have been brought into focus because children always bring emotion to the table. Or is it to take the focus off more salient issues: adequate resources and infrastructure?
The developers state that they have done an independent fiscal analysis. Actually it just touts all the money they are going to bring to the city. It talks about the jobs that construction will bring. That is only short term and are they indeed using all Philomath contractors and workers?
A true fiscal analysis would be called a fiscal impact study that includes the costs to the city short and long term.
There is not enough space here to describe a community impact study, so read about it at GrowPhilomathSensibly.com. I think you will agree that Philomath voters need more information before approving a development of this size.
Reject mammoth housing development
Philomath voters rejected the Chapel Drive (Lowther) annexation in 2005 and 2006. Our committee of 26 Philomath residents urges voters to reject this annexation once again, due to the poorly prepared plan that is unchanged since 2005.
The developers’ plan for 660 houses is based on analyses made 10-15 years ago. For example, the traffic impact analysis was completed in 2005. Much greater demand on Hwy 20/34 during peak hours now results in extreme slowdowns. If the Chapel Drive property is developed, there will be additional congestion in Philomath and surrounding neighborhoods.
Philomath’s water supply is adequate only for the current population without updating treatment facilities, adding storage, or utilizing alternative sources. During the summer, the Marys River can run below minimum required flow rates causing Philomath to use stored water and/or purchase water from Corvallis. Severe drought would exacerbate this situation.
Continuing to rely on Corvallis to supply water places Philomath’s needs in others’ hands. Water quality and quantity must be addressed before increasing Philomath’s population.
Developers make promises to the public and city officials, then change their plans to maximize profit. The developers’ conceptual plan is non-binding. It is common knowledge that after the Chapel Drive property is annexed, a rezoning request will be made to increase the number of homes. Residents do not get a vote on rezoning requests.
Conceptual plans are inadequate to insure that livability in Philomath isn’t jeopardized. Vote no on measure 2-102 to preserve our small-town qualities and prevent severe impact on essential city services.
Annexation too big for Philomath
I am voting “no” on Philomath’s Measure 2-102 annexation because it is way too big for little Philomath.
Masked as “Chapel Drive, LLC,” the Lowther family is again seeking Philomath citizens’ permission for a 159-acre, 660 single-family residence annexation. By a wide margin of nearly 3 to 1, voters rightly turned down a similar behemoth project in 2005 and 2006. A third attempt, unchanged in scope, is being made this November.
There are countless reasons to vote “no” on this annexation. Chief among them is the titanic size of the development, adding approximately 2,000 people and 1,200 cars to our small town. That is like dropping the town of Sisters into Philomath’s city limits.
In addition to having out-of-town developers build hundreds of houses crammed onto tiny lots, Lowthers’ concept map shows the construction of at least two roads and a bike path across a FEMA-designated floodplain, sensitive wetlands known as Newton Creek. Those small culverts could be profoundly inadequate during high water in the winter time. Any plugged culverts could easily back up water into existing neighborhoods. Remember the floods in 1996 and 2012?
As I recently testified in Philomath Planning Commission and City Council meetings, I am not against growth, but I am against the unreasonableness of this 10-year-long construction zone. A resounding “no” vote will certainly send them back to the drawing board to create a much smaller, more sensible, scaled-back proposal that better fits Philomath’s character.
Don’t tolerate Philomath politicking
Philomath residents deserve to understand the cronyism and backroom politicking that has put the Chapel Drive-Lowther housing development on the ballot again.
The developers submitted a concept (not a definite plan) for building 660 single-family houses between 23rd and 30th streets, and between Chapel Drive and Applegate.
First: The Planning Commission that sent the plan to City Council is chaired by a Realtor. Of the six other commissioners, one owns a home-building company and one is the regional construction manager of a Portland-based contractor.
Second: The mayor of Philomath is employed by an electrical contractor. He paid to have an individual statement in the voters' pamphlet, supporting the development.
Third: When the Oregon Department of Transportation declined to approve the developers’ conceptual plan, Philomath leaders convinced ODOT not to require a traffic study before the upcoming vote.
Under the developers’ plan, about 1,200 more cars would jam up Highway 20/34 and cut through surrounding neighborhoods.
Fourth: In the voters' pamphlet, the city doesn’t explain that if residents vote yes on the conceptual plan, the developers can change it. Developers won’t have to stick to 660 single-family houses. They could petition to build high-density housing, like the buildings at the corner of 53rd Street and Philomath Boulevard. They could sell to another developer that wants to build student housing.
Residents won’t get a chance to vote on that.
Don’t let the City of Volunteers become the City of the Snookered. Vote no on the Chapel Drive annexation.
Philomath Citizens for Prosperity and Stability (a political front for the out-of-town developers) is holding their informational meeting at the library regarding the Chapel Drive Annexation. How ironic! If the voters approve the annexation, not a single dollar will go towards expanding our library facilities (or schools, or police, or fire department) for service to the additional 660 households. By law, developers’ fees cannot be used to expand such facilities.
The 660 number is a minimum. It’s considered likely that the developer will apply for and receive approval to build even more houses. Or, they could sell to a developer that wants to build apartments, or even student housing. The development could easily balloon to 1200-1500 households. Philomath residents would have no chance to vote on such changes. Please think about that. The additional costs of city services will all fall squarely on the shoulders of the real citizens of Philomath as additional taxes.
If the Chapel Dr/Lowther annexation is such a great idea, why are the developers hiding behind a political action committee that has a deceitful name?
When your voters pamphlet arrives, you will see an argument in favor of the annexation from a group calling itself Philomath Citizens for Prosperity and Stability.
According to the secretary of State’s office, this group has 2 directors. One is Butch Busse of Clackamas, who represents H&R Homes, one of the developers. The other is Mike Agee of Gresham, a real estate broker who represents Millersburg Land and Development.
The treasurer of the group is Jef Green of Portland. He’s the president of C&E Systems, which provides accounting and fund-raising services for ballot initiatives.
“Philomath Citizens” indeed! Join Grow Philomath Sensibly, which represents 27 of your neighbors, in voting no on measure 2-102.
For the third time, Philomath voters are being asked to approve the annexation of the 159-acre Chapel Drive property. Residents resoundingly defeated this measure twice before, for compelling reasons that have gotten only stronger.
Philomath water supplies are insufficient to supply 660 new homes. Water bills will soar, since there would be up to 50% more people bidding for a fixed supply of this scarce resource. Mandatory water conservation measures could impact families, businesses, and agriculture.
The development will mean another 1200 to 1300 more cars clogging local roads. Increased traffic is a threat to children riding bikes or crossing the street, and will inevitably lead to more accidents. Imagine the hassle of dropping off kids at school or afternoon activities when fighting all the traffic. Just getting into Corvallis for errands or shopping will take longer.
Current home owners will pay higher property taxes to finance infrastructure for the new development, which will need sewers, roads, police and fire protection, and much more before there are any new residents to pay ongoing taxes.
Philomath has already annexed land that is more suitable for building homes and businesses. Let's start with reasonable, carefully planned growth that will enhance the community, not degrade it. Please say no to the Chapel Drive annexation. Don't let developers walk away with hefty profits, leaving Philomath with California-style problems of high taxes, traffic, and water rationing.
Measure 2-102 is an attempt by developers to annex 159 acres into Philomath’s city limits in order to build (according to the current proposal) 660 homes. This annexation, if approved, could increase the population of a peaceful town with successful schools by up to 50%.
Some proponents of this ill-defined plan say it will benefit the Philomath schools because enrollment will increase when in reality we have no assurance of that, whatsoever.
In two city meetings, the developers could/would not give details on the size or cost of the houses to be built. The public is assuming that this will be affordable real estate for young families who will settle and raise their children here.
For what reason will they move in large numbers to Philomath? Will they be commuting to Corvallis for work? How do we know they will be able to purchase these homes?
After annexation, the voters lose any control over what will be built. The developers and the planning commission may, at any time, decide to build apartments that will attract a transient student population rather than families who will remain.
By law, developers’ fees cannot be used to expand schools. Larger schools would have to come from higher property taxes paid by ALL Philomath residents.
Vote NO on Measure 2-102.
May G. Meredith
This is in reply to Steve E. - you say that our opinions differ on what the annexation means and I think that you genuinely trust that the council will ensure that they really complete all of the steps as shown on the website. We've lived here 36 years and in reality our city leaders have a history of not completing the necessary studies before backing development. Do the research and you will see. Once the land is annexed anything can happen. Voting No is our safety net.
I ended up being on the water and sewer commission for 5 years to help clean up a huge mess due to zero planning. Fortunately we achieved results with a new treatment facility and water source but that was a huge battle. I oppose this development because this will take us back 30 years since nothing has been done to ensure that we have the adequate resources.
It was irresponsible and very risky for the council and planning commission to even let this development go this far without doing the studies and ensuring the resources. I'm glad to talk to you and show you the documentation that supports our standing.
If the Chapel Drive/Lowther annexation - 2-102 on your ballot – passes we can’t go back. 5 years from now, when the pie in the sky promises aren’t kept, with hundreds more cars on the roads, we have a water crisis, our property taxes have gone up, not down, and the developers are long gone, it’s too late. Once this land is annexed it’s a done deal. The only thing we have in writing is the ballot measure – read it, it’s the only promise they are agreeing to, no matter what you’re told.
The scale of this annexation is beyond imagining. Picture the population of Waldport plunked down in the middle of Philomath, needing sewers, water, and schools. That is the equivalent population that this proposed annexation will bring. 660 houses = 2,640 people, give or take. It’s a small city, not a development, funded by us, not the developers.
The picture is grim. Philomath doesn’t have the infrastructure to support an annexation of this size - even half this size. 1200+ additional cars on Philomath Blvd? ODOT has no plan to improve it. The water situation is bleak now – and going to get bleaker if we add 660 new yards and gardens, 2500+ people taking showers, flushing toilets, etc. - where does this water come from? Who pays for it? You and me!
2-102 would be a disaster to Philomath. There is much to be learned and done before even considering such an annexation.
Philomath voters should vote no on measure 2-102. This is the measure that would annex the Lowther property that borders Applegate St. and Chapel drive. The proposal is for 660 homes which would raise Philomath’s population by 35-50%, depending on whose numbers you believe. Here are the reasons this is a bad idea:
1.Philomath is already maxed out in water use. We use every drop we have. We can’t possibly support this massive development. In addition, the water treatment plant is at maximum capacity, and water storage is inadequate, now, for a catastrophic fire. The cost for buying water and creating a new treatment plant would run to many millions.
2. The out of town developers could develop the land right now, but they would have to dig, and pay for, new wells. Annexation would put the costs of water (plus additional police, fire, and other services) on the citizens, instead of themselves. They want to maximize profits by putting costs onto the rest of us.
3. Oregon Department of Transportation wrote to the Philomath planning commission that our roads are not adequate for this massive development. When my wife called ODOT they told her there is no plan to increase the highway from Philomath to Corvallis. None. Imagine 1200-1300 more cars at the highway and 53rd St.
4. Philomath has no jobs for the people that would move here, and Corvallis certainly doesn’t have 1200-1300 jobs available. So this annexation puts the cart before the horse in that home owners need jobs. Our city has done nothing about job creation and that must happen first. No one keeps a home without work. No one!
5. There is an erroneous notion that building homes will help our schools. This is false. Homes without jobs creates a transient, slum like, environment that is very hard on schools. And, growing schools is risky. Every bit of research on school size says that small schools are safer and, generally, more effective with students… Schools do better when they are small. Certainly they do better when families are stable.
6. Philomath already has annexed property. If we want to grow we don’t need this reckless and irresponsible development. We just need to use the annexed land we already have; some to create jobs, and some for homes. This is what the city of Lebanon did. They courted, and won, a veteran’s facility and a medical school, and once there were jobs then, and only then, did they begin building homes.
We don’t need to pay for these developers to make millions and leave town, leaving our community with a financial disaster that we may never recover from.
No water, no jobs, no roads? No on 2-102
Arguments against annexation:
I just drove past Monroe and noticed the population sign is 680. So, the developers want to put a Monroe size town in between Chapel and Applegate? .... and actually, because there would be 2-4 people in each house, the development would be two to three times the polulation of Monroe
Hard to see that the developer's idea makes sense. Yes there would be more taxes, but there would also be more kids. It's not likely there would be more dollars for each student. Think of parents' nightmare trying to drop kids off at school when traffic is up by 1200+ cars.
Sisters (population 2174) and Waldport (population 2081) are approximately the size of this development.
660 house @ 3.1 people per house = 2046 people
The 3.1 figure comes from Eden Fodor, a nationally noted community planner based in Eugene. He wrote the book Better Not Bigger that a couple of people have mentioned.
1) Families with children don't move to a community to get a home. They move to a community to get a job, and later buy homes. Philomath is doing a "cart-before-the-horse" by building homes young families have no money to buy. So this development will do NOTHING for the schools.
2) Philomath already has annexed property that is not developed. We don't need this massive project that will threaten our water supply and roads. We approved an annexation last November and the man who owns the site they wanted to put the jail on has offered to do homes instead.
3. Research shows that small schools are safer than large schools, and typically outperform large schools academically. No one should be afraid of sending kids to a small school. They work exceedingly well.
4. if the developers and the Lowthers can develop the land right now. They just can't off load costs to all of us without annexation. THIS IS ABOUT PROFITS, NOT KIDS!
Concerns for voters in Philomath about the Chapel Drive Annexation.
The Lowther property can be developed at higher residential density than the annexation request states currently, (660 houses on 110 acres). The Annexation’s residential density is non binding and changeable.
With every request for development on this annexed land, each subdivision will go before City of Philomath Planning Dept. Staff, for 10 or more years. Density and ownership will change. For the first subdivision, developers may likely have to rely on outdated infrastructure plans. For example, the city’s master water plan has not been revised since 2005, so voters may not know this since they are not all involved in public land use hearings. Lack of multiple updated city service master plans in support of this large annexation could be destabilized planning. Currently, annexed land exists, and remains undeveloped.
As stated in City of Philomath Comprehensive Land Use Guidelines, Subdivisions do not have to be approved by City Council. Instead, they become final/with no further public input at all, during a hearing at the Planning Commission(PC) level.
PC have recently filled an opening with a candidate who is involved with PAC: ‘Philomath Citizens for Prosperity and Development’. This person may legally have to excuse themself during every subdivision hearing on this land since they do have a documented conflict of interest.
Residents would have to file objections at a Planning Commission hearing for every single subdivision request, over ten, plus years. Objections will have to be based on outdated or, an updated set of city master plan code language. Citizen volunteers would have to pay money to appeal decisions for each subdivision to the Philomath City Council, and pay more money to hire an attorney and pay for appeal fees at Oregon’s, Land Use Board of Appeals.
At the Planning Commission(PC) level, it will be a task to seek lower residential density, in say the second subdivision, as the first subdivision density increase, could set a legal precedent, and it is important for the city to be paid for urbanization, using money the developers will directly charge home buyers, to build infrastructure into the site prior to full build out, building all the streets, lighting and buried utilities, in place with the first subdivision.
City residents will endure annexed site for ten+ years, and pay to hire city staff, in response to growth: police, fire, public works staff, city hall staff and pay for city wide road repairing, and for normal wear and tear, upgrade all utilities with city wide taxation. City can argue these upgrades are needed regardless of annexation demand on all City services.
For this annexation City could be providing residents with more facts on what they will pay for because of this annexation request, or what will be taxed in future, due to normal need to do normal infrastructural upgrading, over time, paid for with future tax increases.
If the annexation is approved, the public will have limited say in what is built on the land, and at what density and for how long. Developers are banking on an easier time here in Philomath because subdivisions do not have to go to the City Council level and, it costs money and time to appeal a PC decision to City Council based on applicable Land Use Development Code issues which impact residents and many of the guiding city master plans are needing to be updated or are in process of being updated.
Vote no on measure 2-102.