Grow Philomath Sensibly

Letters to the editor

We value your opinion.    Let us hear from you.

Send an email to       GPS Editor

NOTE:  Material and editorials submitted to the GPS web site are solely the opinion of the authors.


Hello, Faithful Readers … or if you’re not, you should be.

These are interesting times, and not least is the election on November 8. It’s a time for Fall cleanup and that also applies to elections. Take a close look at the ballot and see what needs to be cleared out.

Please take notice of the disclaimer at the bottom of the Voter’s Pamphlet; it says:

"The above information has not been verified for accuracy by Benton County, ORS 251.335".

Use that phrase to weigh candidates and their statements of qualifications; are there any actual, visible actions that they can point to as evidence of their value on the council?

Your city council decides how tax dollars are spent on services like parks, city public safety, street maintenance, and utilities such a water and sewer.

Can you think of even ONE improvement in any of those services? Does any candidate statement refer to any such improvement?


Philomath City Council has two major committees: Finance and Administration, and Public Works.

On these important committees providing Philomath’s administration, the mayor and councilor Causey strategically placed councilor Matt Lehman, councilor David Low, and effectively removed councilor Biscoe and councilor Andrade to virtual invisibility.

It is alarming and concerning that Councilor Causey has identified councilors she can and will work with, and the councilors she declines to work with were the very councilors she maneuvered to have removed from the committees she now serves on and which she chairs.

These actions were not in the interest of good governance, they were political shenanigans.

Ms. Causey could not have accomplished these backroom maneuvers without the help and support of both the mayor and the city manager.

This is NOT how Philomath council should be allowed to conduct its business.

Voters anticipate elected officials will work cordially and collegially with their colleagues to get the city’s work done. What they get sometimes is quite different.

Candidate Causey has stated in her Candidate’s Statement there are candidates she knows she can work with, implying any others are those she cannot or will not work with.

She claims she has gained a broad understanding of Philomath’s government and operations, but something she has NOT learned is how to treat respectfully some fellow councilors.

She has also displayed blatant disrespect for citizens appearing before the council.

In a Planning Commission meeting in 2021 she verbally harassed an applicant she did not like, and in February 2022 she called out a member of the public for their legal public testimony.

This is collegiality? This is respect for the citizens and voters of Philomath??


The mayor is the top executive in city government. The mayor often oversees many public works departments for their locale, including fire, police, emergency medical and utility services. The mayor is commonly a part of the town council, serving in a leadership position for meetings.

The mayor claims in his Position Statement: "I’ve shown that I am adept at providing city leadership through my 2 years as mayor, while having a challenging city council situation, yet the council and city have continued to move efforts forward and continue to act to the benefit of our city."

      Quote from Mayor Jones: “The city has continued to move efforts forward.”

What is being said here? WHAT efforts?

What has this mayor done, except behind closed doors allow the development of the Millpond Crossing to progress despite lack of adherence to Building Codes and without council approval?

There is already a multi-million dollar lawsuit filed involving the Millpond Crossing, and more lawsuits are in the offing.

Your mayor has placed himself on the Finance and Administrative Committee. He needs to be removed.

The mayor should NOT be a designated member of any committee. His job is NOT to legislate.

Change the face of Philomath’s administration.

Vote for:

   Jessica Andrade, councilor

   Catherine Biscoe, councilor

   Peggy Yoder, for councilor

   Lawrence Johnson, for mayor

Catherine Appleton,      Concerned Citizen
Oct. 19, 2022


It’s autumn ... time for clearing away debris … and Philomath has a LOT of debris in its city administration, starting with the mayor and the city manager.

The voters of Philomath need to make the next election significant by removing the mayor, and some city council members, and then the city manager, replacing them with people who actually care about the quality of Philomath, the safety of its citizens, and about the business of managing Philomath and its growth.

The City Manager serves "at the pleasure of the City Council;”  that’s how the position is supposed to work. The current mayor, Chas Jones, in league with the city manager, Chris Workman, has turned the city council on its ear, frequently treating councilors with disdain and arrogance and effectively deciding between the two of them what business will be the brought to the council and what will be managed between themselves behind closed doors without involving the council.

This duo needs to be removed and the city council must be returned to its legislative capability, with the mayor and city manager functioning as partners with the council, not dictators. Only the voters can accomplish this.

Here are some examples of recent administrative circumventions, duplicities, and failures:

The "decision" to move this development forward without required infrastructure completion or without the property monuments being confirmed/finalized are two of the decisions in question that have caused many issues:

  • houses being built without proper set-backs that allow for emergency services (one home is reported just 18" from the property line)
  • fences being installed on incorrect lot lines (one is 30" into their neighboring property),
  • structures being non-conforming which is a potential insurance risk in the case of catastrophic loss of property (fire?),
  • streets being incomplete and unrecorded (S. 16th) which has prevented the street from being in the emergency response systems and causing delays in fire response as the street is not in their GPS system.
Do you see the disconnect? The city manager was aware of these decisions, must have authorized them, and the development moved forward despite the need for council oversight because the need was withheld from the council.

The current city council has been obstructed by the mayor and city manager, who have grasped for themselves the legislative tasks of running the city.

Voters need to see through the facade of this city council as an effective body, but which is quite the reverse -- one that is often in the dark about what’s going on and what they should be doing.

It is no secret that lawsuits have been filed already, and more are likely. The city will be sued for the development failings, and likely by property owners whose property non-conformance will cause them much grief and take much time to remedy and they yet may be required to pay the bills for the remedies!

The election is November 8.

Be sure to send in your mail-in ballot --- change is good –-- your vote counts!

Catherine Appleton,      Concerned Citizen
Oct. 1, 2022


The property owners and voters in Philomath need to stand up and take notice, and then take

The Millpond Crossing Development is a problem that is festering and could result in an explosion, chemically and politically.

The problem is, the City Council and the city manager were either working in concert with the builder to side-step necessary building permits and environmental concerns or the City Council was kept in the dark about certain facets of the project by the city manager.

A city councilor who side-steps permitting requirements, or a city councilor who is uninformed or ill-informed, needs to be replaced at the next election.

The city manager needs to explain how he manipulated the city council into side-stepping the permitting requirements and why environmental problems were flagrantly ignored.

Testimony of some citizens seeking to provide environmental and health risk documentation for council consideration had their testimony deleted from several council meetings’ written records.

Who authorized this tampering of recorded testimony?

The city council voted, during the May 21, 2018 hearing, to approve 5 land-use decisions, without allowing any citizen input to their deliberations.

     Why was the City Council so determined to exclude citizen input?

The Department of Environmental Quality - DEQ - produced a study showing explosive levels of methane gas, plus the finding of additional contaminants of arsenic, barium, chromium, cadmium, lead, mercury, selenium, silver, oil, and diesel.

Why were these findings ignored by the city’s permitting staff and why were mitigation procedures not presented to the city council for their consideration?

A DEQ “Communications Plan,” dated May 6, 2021 states: “The developer began construction of the western portion of the former mill's property before completing environmental investigation work.” The DEQ states: “It’s unclear why the developer built and sold numerous houses prior to completing the investigative work”.

This could happen only with the city’s permission. Who, within the city administration, provided permission?

Despite repeated assurances by the city and the developer to the DEQ that no building permits would be issued until conditions of approval and environmental concerns were addressed, development began and, to date, more than 60 houses have been constructed and sold … houses occupied by families, some with young children.

     What are the mitigation potentials for this land? How do the chemicals and methane get removed and these properties made safe for habitation?

The homeowners have been advised not to smoke in their backyards or light a barbecue because of methane fumes.

     What could happen if a worker struck a metal pipe underground? Could there be an explosion?
     What could happen to family pets? Will they be contaminated by the chemicals and gassed by the methane?

This development purportedly was created as affordable housing; the developer claimed many of his employees could not afford housing in Philomath.

It would be interesting to know how many of the developer’s employees own one of these “affordable” houses, that likely cannot be re-sold as they stand. They are on unsafe land and it would be illegal to transfer title to a subsequent owner without advising of the known risks and contaminants.

The city manager has been quoted saying that the developer owed the city System Development Charge fees to the tune of $3.8 million.
Currently, that sum is in the range of $1.52 million.

May 28, 2018 – Levi Miller said:
     … “ we’re going to be writing a check of $3.8 million to the city when it’s all said and done.”

How and when is the developer going to pay the city its fees?

A lot of questions and few answers.

Catherine Appleton,      Concerned Citizen
Sep. 3, 2022

     Remember: VOTE!


Transparency and accountability continue to be topics of concern in Philomath.

During the June 24 City Council meeting, Councilor Marion Dark made a motion attempting to establish audio recordings for all city meetings, adding Public Works and the Finance/Administration Committee, where many real city finance decisions are made. She urged the keeping of the recordings on the city’s website for a minimum of three to six months for public access.

After 30 minutes of discussion and objection, City Manager, Chris Workman had convinced three councilors to vote the motion down. Vote: 3-2 (Opposed: David Low, Doug Edmonds, Matthew Thomas. In Favor: Dark, Chas Jones).

Why does transparency matter?

Philomath has approved an unprecedented (35%+) amount of growth since 2017, with another 26-acre, master plan development hearing before the Planning Commission July 15th. The original Hearing on May 20 was suspiciously canceled by the city (unbeknownst to the Planning Commission), the same day a 2,000-address mailer alerting Philomath residents of the hearing was released.

Philomath exceeded the lifespan of our water treatment plant facility over 10 years ago. To date there has been no clear communication to citizens or upfront planning addressing the treatment plant and other needed infrastructure expenditures estimated at $29 million.

In May, the city sponsored a water town hall event with expert speakers addressing Philomath’s overall water supply, facility, distribution concerns and impacts from climate change showing warming trends for the entire valley. Guest experts at no time stated that Philomath has enough water for continued population growth and development. However, their data and reports clearly showed that there are concerns and Philomath has supply issues during the dry season, with a near water curtailment in 2015. This is with a current population of 4,700.

Looking to mitigate water issues, the city is considering using existing wells as aquifer storage recovery systems. This would require a considerable investment with no guarantee that the sizable cost would produce a solution as these systems are not necessarily a proven solution.

Those same wells have proven unreliable, hence the reason the city went to the Marys River for its water source. Obtaining water from Corvallis is not only tremendously costly, it is not a long-term solution. Corvallis is also dealing with unprecedented development and growth and may not continue to make excess water available to serve Philomath.

Building a new water treatment plant and infrastructure is a requirement for Philomath, but how we fund those substantial costs is a decision the citizens should have input on. Transparency and accountability, creativity, grants and conservation programs are necessary. We should demand dedicated funding for these costs, as Councilor Dark has suggested, reflecting a willingness of the City Council to show transparency and honesty to its citizens. We should not settle for unrestricted general water fund rate increases that will nearly double Philomath’s water rates with no real path to the new water treatment plant costs.

Continued development and population growth are not feasible with natural resource limitations. Securing our water supply is clearly an issue for Philomath. Our citizens do not want to face a water crisis and need our leaders to be responsible in the decisions they make today for the future of our community.

The criteria (methodology) that the city uses for water and other infrastructure capacity is currently under appeal before the Oregon State Court of Appeals.

It would be irresponsible to continue to approve additional development that requires services and resources that Philomath does not have and that our citizens will be forced to fund!

Letter to the PhilomathExpress Editor . . .

Citizen Declares Misguided Loyalties

          Citizen declares misguided loyalties
        (Click above to read the full letter)

Gasps escaped the crowd at Philomath's June 10 city meeting when Councilor Terry Weiss
told us that City Manager Chris Workman had loudly called a woman on the budget committee names
in front of her teenage daughter. She also said that Workman criticized Weiss herself
in an email he had cc'd to everyone on the council, including the city attorney.

Ann Buell
July 3, 2019

Letter to the Editor:    Serving developers, not the majority

Ann Buell
Oct. 31, 2018

Letter to the Editor:    Now is the time for civic duty

Judy Hays-Eberts
Oct. 31, 2018

Letter to the Editor:    Philomath faces critical election

Janice Stanger
Oct. 11, 2018

Philomath is at a risky fork in the road. Will the city keep its small-town values and uncrowded quality of life? Or will it become a playing field for developers? This November's election is critical in sealing the choice.

The population of Philomath will increase 31.5 percent over its 2016 level as a result of housing units already approved. However, a recent survey found only 11 percent of Philomath residents favor this breakneck development pace.

Current elected officials (except one) have voted for developers at every opportunity. A 2016 state law ended voter rights to determine most annexations; however, two of the biggest developments OK'd by the City Council were based on rezoning industrial land to high-density residential. Such rezoning is not required under state law - these approvals to meet developer interests were voluntary.

Here are the candidates who will work to safeguard our quality of life from the out-of-control development waiting for future approval.

Eric Niemann, an incumbent city councilor, has been the only elected official with the courage to vote against developers on their largest, most unwise demands.

Terry Weiss and Marion Dark have attended numerous City Council meetings over the last two years. They testified at these meetings to slow excessive building when basic infrastructure is not there to support it. Matthew Thomas has also spoken out against rubber-stamp development approvals.

Niemann is running for mayor; Weiss, Dark, and Thomas are candidates for City Council. Please vote for them.

Janice Stanger

As I See It:   How Philomath's floodgates opened

Oct 3, 2018

If you drive to or from the Willamette Valley through Philomath and Corvallis you probably asked yourself, What's happening to our community?

Since Gov. Kate Brown signed Senate Bill 1573 in 2016, cities are mandated to annex land in their urban growth boundaries by city ordinances rather than a vote of the people. Citizens, by referendum, changed their city charters to allow votes on annexation and now more than 30 cities have lost their ability to vote on growth and all the issues that come with it. Thank you, Gov. Brown, for silencing our voices. The count is more than 700,000 citizens!

Citizens in these home rule municipalities have looked to their locally elected officials for relief from this new unfunded mandate from Salem. Growth-mandated infrastructure is expensive. The list includes traffic congestion, new water plants, sewage plants, fire stations, school facilities, law enforcement, jails, libraries, parks and so forth.

This brings us to the city of Philomath. Confronted with SB 1573's new state mandates, city government initially sided with its citizens and Philomath’s charter under Oregon's home rule provisions spelled out by Oregon's Constitution since 1906. On Jan. 29, the mayor and council held an executive session behind closed doors (no public allowed) and went back on their word to the community and changed the city's annexation policy. People lost their annexation vote and the City Council, by ordinance, will make all future annexation decisions.

Now, the people of Philomath no longer have their voice or vote heard on critical infrastructure, quality of life questions, and other agendas.

Not surprisingly, the floodgates flew open, and the City's new development mantra is 'come one come all.' Approximately 600 housing units (apartment & subdivision complexes) are in the pipeline or already approved with the City currently considering 100 more. On May 21, the City held a public hearing to Annex 0.92 acres, consider a comprehensive plan a zoning map amendment, rezoned a former lumber mill site from industrial to R3 high density residential for a 166-lot subdivision, signed a development agreement and voted 6-1 to approve this agenda.

Many citizens had absolutely no knowledge of this development, learning of it at the 11th hour through social media. It appears this had been quietly worked on for some time. The City reassured people they did what the law required. Public testimony evidence entered into the record over environmental and public safety issues included "Ghosts In The Ground" by former Gazette-Times reporter John Butterworth. The City has been repeatedly asked, to no avail, to produce environmental documents concerning the former mill site. The writer of this editorial finally filed a freedom of information records request on June 9. What the reports confirmed was a major incident and letter of noncompliance from the Department of Environmental Quality threatening a $7,500-a-day fine if not mitigated. At the June 25 council hearing, when I shared both environmental reports with the mayor and council, they denied ever seeing the documents. The City and DEQ couldn't find any evidence the site had ever been cleaned up. When the city was confronted with this information, the reply was "it wasn't relevant and not part of Philomath applicable criteria for the development." Tell that to somebody who gets sick. Surely the Legislature can fix this DEQ issue and problem.

Citizens should expect more of their elected officials. When voters in November choose a new mayor and council, they might ask themselves if the candidates have the right criteria to represent them. After all, their decisions will affect our community and lives for a long time!

Jeff Lamb of Philomath is vice chairman of Oregon Communities for a Voice in Annexation.

Letter to the Editor:    Let's take our city back

Ann Buell
Sep. 19, 2018

Dear Editor:

Everyone else had spoken, but when Jeff Lamb spoke up to talk about Millpond Crossing and DEQ, the mayor wouldn't let him. The more he tried the more he was shut down. I couldn't believe it, so I blurted out, "Let him talk!" But they still wouldn't.

That's what happened last Monday night at the Philomath city meeting. Back in my May 30 letter to the editor, the word limit prevented me from telling how council member Jerry Jackson bullied another citizen when he spoke up. So again I ask, "Why do some council members and our mayor act like they are our bosses?" Aren't they supposed to serve us? Instead they are silencing us!

How is democracy supposed to work if our city gets away with shutting people down when they're shedding light on important issues?

Now I know there must be something to Lamb's reports with DEQ if he's stopped in exercising his free speech on that point! A lawyer advised us to call DEQ - we did - never heard back. So I really wanted to hear what he found out.

Jeff Lamb usually has essential information. I wanted to hear him because I'm afraid. My health has already been compromised due to the chemicals that are in some foods. If simple foods can harm me enough to have caused several operations, then I'm sure the toxins at Millpond Crossing will harm not only me but many of us, because the very nature of toxins is that they are toxic to us all!

I have to work on my health practically 24-7, yet this small town's government would trade all our health away for $3.8 million. The evil is with the city, not the developers. Apparently, they don't care if they cause mass cancer, deformed babies or asthma; just to name a few atrocities that could happen.

Still, despite Mayor Rocky Sloan's unsavory efforts, Eric Niemann voted "NO." He's the only member of the council that proved he cares about how toxins could affect the people who live here. Eric Niemann and Jeff Lamb are true heroes! So are all of those who spoke out against the toxins over these last few months. You are all heroes to me! Thank you for your integrity and courage.

If you care about the livability of Philomath, then I encourage Philomath citizens to come to meetings. Let's take our city back!

Ann Buell

September 2, 2018 | Update on SB-1573

On July 13, 2018 the Oregon Court of Appeals held a hearing on whether or not SB-1573, sponsored by Sen. Lee Beyer (D., Springfield), that was crafted through an 11th hour back room "stuff & gut", drafted by the Oregon Homebuilders Association and Oregonians in Action In the 2016 legislative session, violates the Oregon Constitution.
If allowed to stand, SB-1573 would authorize the State Legislature to OVERRIDE city charters and ordinances violating "home rule" throughout Oregon. These city "constitutions" and laws have been protected by the Oregon Constitution since 1906 and are the bedrock of Oregon land use planning law and the foundation of Goal #1 "citizen involvement". Why Gov. Brown, a former Secretary of State for six years, and who should have known better, signed this bill can only be speculated on. It's not every day you pick a fight with 30+ cities and 800,000+ people!!

The challenges that Oregon communities faced 21 years ago are even more relevant today (see Jeff Lamb's editorial concerning the city of Canby 21 years ago). For 40 years Oregon real estate and development interests have failed to muzzle citizen involvement in their communities' future by every means possible. They couldn't accomplish this fair and square through the courts or Legislature, so they reverted to Sen. Beyer's Senate Bill-1573 under a bogus emergency clause. SB-1573 revoked the people's vote on most annexations and voice in how they want their communities to grow, prosper and who pays for the infrastructure that is mandated by that growth. This action by the Legislature is strictly prohibited by Oregon's Constitution, as City Charters are the sole domain of local registered voters! This egregious legislation is currently under review and being challenged in the courts. On July 13th, 2018 the Oregon Court of Appeals held a court session on this matter and the 800,000+ people who have been disenfranchised by having their vote taken away are awaiting the Court of Appeals ruling.

By passing an emergency clause by statute, that makes it impossible for a citizens referendum to repeal the misguided Legislature's action.

By outlawing voter annexation laws, local citizens can no longer protect public health and safety from real estate and development interests. Because their supporters on planning commissions and city councils across Oregon rubber stamp their projects. Instead of community-wide consensus that voter annexation provisions provided, SB-1573 now mandates cities to annex by ordinance at property owners and developers requests. Without VOA participation,now during the public hearings process citizens are repeatedly told that their concerns are not part of the applicable criteria for approval of growth and development projects. The Legislature's raid on city charters and ordinances is strictly forbidden by Oregon's Constitution which says City Charters are the sole domain of local registered voters!

SB-1573 effectively gives control of city charters to development interests via the Legislature. It flies in the face of clearly-written language in the Oregon Constitution, Article XI, Section 2 that states, "The Legislative Assembly shall not enact, amend or repeal any charter or act of incorporation for any municipality, city or town." Accordingly, the League of Oregon Cities and the cities of Corvallis and Philomath are suing the state of Oregon over this issue.

The Supreme Court in Heritage Enterprises versus the city of Corvallis (708 P. 2d 601 (OR 1985)) ruled voter annexation is legal under city charters. We anticipate the Supreme Court once again will decide this issue based on Article XI, Section 2 and Supreme Court precedent cited above.

Jeff Lamb

                     Click here to read original Letter to the Editor

June 9, 2018 | Giving voice to Philomath
First of all, thank you for having a "letter to the editor" section so that our voices of Philomath can be heard. I appreciate knowing what my neighbors are thinking about as it relates to the town we call home. Often it's a different opinion, and this allows me to consider their perspective. Sometimes it's difficult to see the other side, but having the space to read about various opinions is surely a way to begin understanding and knowing our neighbors.
Another way to find out about our neighbors is to ask their opinions. In a small town such as Philomath one can never assume what the perspective is of the majority of residents unless one asks.
And now you can give your opinion about aspects of Philomath growth at the website of Grow Philomath Sensibly, scroll down and click on the "Please Take Our Survey" button.
I find this group to be open-minded, and it very much needs your input. The survey takes only a few minutes to complete, and it does not collect your identity or any personal information. The group will be sharing survey results with the community, so please share your thoughts.
E. Elliott

June 6, 2018 | Philomath citizens have no say
Dear Editor:
On May 21, Philomath City Council hastily approved a 166-acre subdivision north of Chapel Drive, ignoring the concerns of Philomath citizens.
As reported by the Philomath Express, city officials worked with the developers behind closed doors for four months. Residents became aware of this development only a couple weeks before the public hearing, allowing scant time for preparation.
The subdivision is being pitched as "affordable housing." This ignores the tens of millions of dollars that will be brought in for the few who share in the profits, while everyone else in Philomath suffers.
The developers will pay $3.8 million in fees; however, this will not cover the full costs to the city. The remainder will be subsidized by Philomath taxpayers.
The impact of this subdivision must be considered in the context of two large apartment complexes being built in Philomath and additional housing being built in the Chapel Drive area. The population of Philomath is likely to increase by 25 percent in the near term. Where is the infrastructure — water, police, fire, schools — to support such rapid and uncoordinated growth?
The Philomath School District enrolls 1,572 students. A 25 percent increase in enrollment would mean about 393 additional students. Can the school handle this influx without expensive school bonds? And what would 25 percent more cars on the road do to your commute?
The developers and city council also glossed over possible contamination of the subdivision site by toxic chemicals. Testing results to date are being kept secret, with additional testing proceeding to a total of 68 pits being dug for analysis.
What are 68 pits over a 31.2-acre site? This analysis of only about two pits per acres does not seem adequate for a property with 35 years of industrial use. Are there chemicals in the soil that will blow over the area as dust is generated during construction?
In her excellent May 30 letter to the editor, Ann Buell discusses how members of the Philomath City Council voted against citizen interests. The only council member who voted with residents was Eric Niemann. If Philomath residents want to take back control, it's important that the 2018 election for Philomath City Council and mayor be competitive.
If you are interested in running for office, filing begins June 11. Contact Ruth Post, city recorder, for details.
Janice Stanger
  • Long Time June 6, 2018
    Thank you, Janice, for pointing out the ugly details of the unprecedented growth that Philomath is about to experience. There is no logical way that Philomath can accommodate a 25% increase in population without an existing infratructure to support the water, sewer, roads, fire and drainage.
    As you pointed out the toxicology reports were not completed on the likely polluted industrial land BEFORE the City Council approved the project. No doubt the approval was at the urging of the city manager Chris Workman. Are these people so memorized by the millions of dollars of SDC money coming into the Philomath budget that they are blind to risks to the current residents? Obviously, YES !
    With multiple unit housing being built on 19th street, Philomath Blvd (Hwy 20 & 34), 2 areas on Chapel Drive and on N. 9th Street coupled with the proposed MAJOR re-pavement of both Main Street and Applegate street in 2019, Philomath is fast becoming the most unliveable city in Oregon.
    Where are the City Council candidates willing to protect the current residents and keep Philomath as a town people actually want to live in? Hopefully, the election in November will make a major shakeup in the Council.
    Long Time resident
  • eli June 6, 2018
    As usual the city council/city manager are forging ahead without taking into account the safety and quality of life of the citizens of Philomath.
    I do question the transparency of city management. Chris Workman, last year, in print, denied the existence of a plan for high density housing on 19th street. Actually, he only denied that groundbreaking would begin in May. Groundbreaking began in September of that same year, 2017.
    Another example of "glossing things over" was the decision to continue with the general fund fee. Despite the fact that there was a lot of citizen resistance to the institution of the fee to begin with it was not brought up for discussion. Joan merely stated during a city council meeting that it was being continued because tax revenues were not yet collectible from the new developments. It was my understanding during the budget committee meetings of 2017that it was decided that the fee would not automatically be renewed.
    How straightforward is our city management?
    I agree with Janice. We need a city council that can meld the fiscal management of the city with the well being of its citizens. We need some new faces/minds.
May 30, 2018 | Very disappointed with city’s decision
Dear Editor:
We are very disappointed in our Philomath City Council and other officials. We were shocked that the developers had more compassion and behaved better than city council members!
I really expected the reverse to be true. I thought the city would be more of a voice for residents, but it seemed totally rigged against us because of laws, pressure and corruption? It is the city who actually wanted the developers to convert our lane to a street to be used as an entrance to Miller/Martin’s subdivision development!
Those developers took pity on us that very night, and stopped it, which is excellent on their part! But what about all the residents’ concerns that went unanswered Monday night? Citizen issues were largely ignored by all but one council member, Eric Niemann.
  • Several of us raised issues about going from industrial to high-density zoning.
  • Many wanted the city to take more time before deciding. Philomath officials neglected their own residents. We were only given two weeks’ notice with Mother’s Day in the middle no less. How is that enough time to fight against this? Where is the time to get a lawyer, talk to neighbors, draw up a petition and get it signed, get an assessor to determine our losses?
  • Notification to all residents living on 15th was not given and people at the meeting wanted them to be notified.
  • Residents and others wanted a chemical analysis done on the contaminants that are rumored to have been dumped when it was a mill, like batteries, a fork-lift that heavily leaked oil, etc. One guy said that a chemical study was done and wanted the city to tell us what was in it; he asked the mayor then and there, but the mayor didn’t tell us. I can’t believe that was left unsaid!
This residential subdivision was pushed through even though there are some very real concerns about health and safety of the people living there. Wow. I was taught that our government was supposed to be by and for the people. So, why are our council members and other city staff acting like they are our bosses? I will only vote for one of them in the future. Only one city council member had any integrity and voted for the residents! The city only sees its own monetary gains, not whether or not its citizens are happy and productive.
Ann Buell

SB 1573

Public 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
Chairman, OCVA

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."
Mark Weiss

$17 monthly “public safety service fee”

Philomath's misguided fee increase. Feb 28, 2017
The Philomath City Council is proposing a $17.00 monthly “Public Safety Service” fee be levied on each household and business in the city to shore up the General Fund. This fee would be included on individual utility bills. Is it legal to add a fee to the utility bill that is not related to the utility?
It is called a fee but in reality, it is a tax and as such it should be billed out as a tax so that it can be claimed as an income tax deduction.
The term “public safety service fee,” coupled with several references to the police department in the February newsletter, leads one to believe that without the income generated by this “fee,” our community will be unsafe. However, the truth is, as confirmed in the February 13 city council hearing, the extra revenue would go into the General Fund for other expenditures as well. Why not call it the General Fund Fee? Perhaps because it does not have scare tactic value?
Property taxes account for approximately half of the General Fund and are capped at 3% increase annually. The economy has been growing slowly over the last few years: averaging 1.12% inflation rate over the last 3 years and 2016 saw a wage increase of 2.4%. These figures indicate that tax revenue should cover the cost of wage, material and service cost increases. The General Fund also receives other revenue e.g. franchise fees, cigarette and liquor tax, state revenue sharing, etc.
The newsletter refers to the fact that Philomath has had limited growth and has limited growth potential. Hence, limited opportunity to increase property tax generated revenue. Actually, there has been some growth and there is potential for more growth. At least three new businesses opened in 2016. A 90-unit high density development is scheduled to break ground on 19th Street in May. The city is paid system development costs by the developer and tax revenue will be generated. Two Houser Lane properties were rezoned high density in late 2016.
The Skirvin property was annexed and rezoned. THERE is growth and potential for growth. However, planned growth is only part of the answer to the budget issues. Fiscal responsibility is the other part.
This “crisis” did not develop overnight but suddenly, in the 11th hour, 59th minute the citizens are expected to bail the city out.
Marion Dark
Philomath, Oregon

City needs fiscal discipline. March 1, 2017
Dear Editor:
The City of Philomath notified residents of a proposed $17 per month “public safety service fee” per household. This totals $204 a year, or $1,020 over the five years the city projects it would be needed.
From 2010 through 2015, the city's expenditures increased 32.7 times as fast as the population did. While property tax revenue rose by 14.5 percent, the city insists it needs to dig ever deeper into the pockets of its residents to survive.
The city has not exerted fiscal discipline, preferring to tax residents instead of increasing revenue through sources such as municipal court and grants, controlling cost overruns or reexamining generous staffing, salary and benefit levels. For example, police department expenditures increased by 28.3 percent from 2010 through 2015, and the police department overran their budget by $52,070 in 2015-16.
The city has $4.84 million to draw on in the state treasurer’s investment pool. Just 10 percent of this amount would address immediate issues, until realistic budgets and financial discipline are implemented.
The city represents they have a "revenue problem." This is meaningless. I have a revenue problem and most likely you do too — there are things you want that you can't afford. But you live within your means, and the city must, too.
This “fee” is possibly an illegal tax, positioned as a fee to bypass citizen voting. Your last opportunity to make your voice heard is to give oral comments at the Philomath City Council meeting at 7 p.m. on March 13.
Janice Stanger
Philomath, Oregon

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.
Rana Foster
Corvallis, Oregon

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
Corvallis, Oregon

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.
Jo-Ann Taylor
Corvallis, Oregon

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, Oregon

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 accommodate the population spillover without really benefiting 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.
Jon Bendixen
Philomath, Oregon

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?
Jeff Cohen
Philomath, Oregon

Preserve Philomath Safety Net. October 19, 2016
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.
Holly Bendixen
Philomath, Oregon

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!
Michelle Emeott
Philomath, Oregon

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 I think you will agree that Philomath voters need more information before approving a development of this size.
Marion Dark
Philomath, Oregon

Reject mammoth housing development October 19, 2016
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.
Tina White
Philomath, OR

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.
Mark Dorr
Philomath, OR

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.
Audrey Fletcher
Philomath, OR

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.
Rick Flacco
Philomath, OR

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.
Faith Reidenbach
Philomath, OR

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.
Janice Stanger
Philomath, OR

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
Philomath OR

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.
Holly Bendixen
Philomath, Oregon

If the Chapel Drive/Lowther annexation - 2-102 on your ballot – passes we can’t go back. October 19, 2016
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.
Vote No!
Terry Weiss
Philomath, Oregon

Philomath voters should vote no on measure 2-102. September 28, 2016
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
Mark Weiss
Philomath, Oregon

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
Izzie Elliott
Philomath, Oregon

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.
Janice Stanger

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.
Faith Reidenbach

Reasons to oppose to annexation.
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!
Mark Weiss
Philomath, Oregon

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 them self 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.
R. Foster
Corvallis, Oregon

Grow Philomath Sensibly