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Impact study

needs to be done

Dear Editor:

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.

Marion Dark

Philomath

Developers

hiding behind PAC

Dear Editor:

If the Chapel Drive/Lowther annexation in Philomath is such a great idea, why are the developers hiding behind a political action committee that has a deceitful name?

In your voters pamphlet, 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, the group has two 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 fundraising services for ballot initiatives.

“Philomath Citizens” indeed! Grow Philomath Sensibly, which represents 27 of your neighbors, has done the research on how the developers' plans would impinge on our town. Read more at GrowPhilomathSensibly.com and join us in voting no on Measure 2-102.

Faith Reidenbach

Philomath

Vote yes

on annexation

Dear Editor:

Vote “yes” to Chapel Drive annexation.

We’re asking the voters to support moving this property into the city. The property has been inside the Urban Growth Boundary for over two decades. The city borders it on three sides.

The applicants are looking to develop the property as single-family homes. The applicants can’t change the zoning without public input to anything but single-family homes.

The property will allow Philomath to add new housing opportunities for 10-15 years for new families to call Philomath home.

Many people in Philomath from pastors, bankers, teachers, business owners and others would love to buy here in Philomath. How many people know someone like this? Maybe a family member or someone who has grown up in Philomath who now lives in nearby communities of Lebanon or Albany or further because they can’t find a home here?

Opponents pointed out, people are tearing down older homes in town and building multifamily units. This is true in neighboring Corvallis. That is what stagnant growth brings to Philomath.

Opponents brought up voters didn’t approve it in the past. But a lot has happened in 10-plus years. The city has solved the key issues to annex the property. Planning and council voted 100 percent to pass this on to voters.

Some additional key points:

• Schools. Enrollment has dropped over the last 10 years. Schools have had to pass additional tax measures to meet budget requirements.

• Local businesses. The major grocery store closed. Other commercial land and store fronts are vacant because of lack of new businesses.

• Traffic. ODOT had planned 10 years ago to widen the highway to four lanes to Philomath, but took it off the table because of lack of growth in Philomath.

The most outspoken opponents are so new to your town they haven’t seen the changes. Opponents have attacked your elected officials, city employees, members of city council, planning commission and school board because they are not getting the facts that support their cause.

These people work hard each and every day for Philomath to be a better place to live, go to school and work. Most of these positions are not paid positions. These people have a deep commitment to making their community a better place.

They have given facts and information to support the property being annexed. We encourage you to reach out to them for information to make an informed decision. Then vote “yes” to annex Chapel Drive. View www.chapeldrive.com to get the facts.

Mike Agee and Butch Busse

Portland

Show trust

in your neighbors

Dear Editor:

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 (political action committee) and its “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 Grow Philomath Sensibly, on a purely nonpaid voluntary basis, are donating their time and resources to protect Philomath from consequences of housing developments that will overburden the existing infrastructure, are too expansive, have no established and viable infrastructure to support their existence, will result in higher taxes for all residents and are designed to benefit out-of-town developers and some special interest groups.

The Chapel Drive annexation would permanently alter the character of Philomath with sprawl, loss of green space, persistent construction noise for 10-12 years, and perpetually frustrating traffic jams on Philomath streets and Highway 20/34.

Property taxes and water and sewer bills will rise even higher than the current yearly increases to defray the cost burden of developing and maintaining the infrastructure to provide water, sewer, power, road maintenance and police, firefighters, emergency medical responders, to name a few.

The land developer and the city council and mayor, are conflating “water rights” with “available water.” This is a false equivalency, because as anyone knows, river levels rise and fall, and we are at the mercy of droughts. There will be a substantial water deficit if Corvallis does not renew the intertie water agreement after it expires in June 2017, and/or if the 11th Street wells continue to underproduce or be nonpotable.

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

Yes vote helps

our schools

Dear Editor:

My husband and I have lived in Philomath for 42 years and 33 of those years I taught in the Philomath School District. We raised two children here and I care very much about what happens to Philomath and our children.

I have seen school enrollment go up and down and dollars get short during some very hard times. I have attended difficult school board meetings when baseball, the pool, outdoor school, the forestry program, counseling and many other programs have been on the chopping block.

Each student brings approximately $7,400 to the district. When there are not enough students then there are not enough dollars to support the programs and staff necessary to run those programs. Additionally, the district cannot afford to hire teachers, so class sizes increase.

The city passed a bond several years ago to rebuild our high school and increase the size and to update all of the other schools. Enrollment is down now and classrooms are not effectively used. In order to keep programs and staff we need students, and in order to have students we must have housing for families to live.

The Chapel Drive annexation is a natural location for housing for families to be able to easily access our schools. I would hate to see us have to become part of Corvallis School District in order for our students to have a comprehensive education.

Please join me in voting “yes” for the Chapel Drive annexation.

Kay Glathar

Philomath

Water ‘facts’

not accurate

Dear Editor:

In the Oct. 12 Philomath Express article about the Philomath water supply, city officials use lots of numbers and unsubstantiated “facts” to assert there is enough water to supply the needs of as many as 35,133 residents. Those who disagree are called liars by the mayor.

During low flow periods (less than 10 cubic feet per second) the city can be required by the state Water Resources Division to restrict its water withdrawal to its senior water right of 1 cfs. Philomath uses a bit more than 1 cfs during the summer.

In August 2016, river flow dropped below 10 cfs for about a week, with a few days around 7 cfs. Much longer periods of low flow have happened in the past (Marys River Watershed Council (www.mrwc.org).

Future droughts may worsen the frequency of low flows. River water flow is unpredictable and the city cannot take it all. During droughts, river flow is minimal and the available water would have to be shared among a much larger population (if the annexation passes), probably leading to rationing.

Water from the city's wells is minimal and of poor quality. The city manager speculates that water can be stored in aquifers and used as needed. Even if this complicated solution is feasible, Philomath residents would have to pay higher taxes and water bills.

Until a neutral party provides verifiable proof of adequate future water supplies, Philomath voters should oppose unwise annexation in favor of rational growth that benefits residents, not out-of-town developers.

David Stein

Philomath 

Chapel Drive

short on facts

Dear Editor:

Philomath voters have been done a disservice. We have been asked to vote on an annexation proposal that’s long on pie-in-the-sky and short on facts.

The development’s effect on schools is unknown. Can existing school buildings accommodate the expected increase in students? Developers’ fees cannot by law be used to build new schools, so any expansion means higher tax bills.

It is unknown whether Philomath’s roads, nearby neighborhoods and Philomath Boulevard (Highway 20/34) can absorb 1,200-plus more cars.

How will the development affect public facilities and services, including water, sewage, police, fire protection, solid waste disposal and street maintenance? The developers and the city have given no information about how much the increased burden on public services will raise taxes.

No environmental impact statement has been prepared, even though the Lowther property contains protected wetlands. It is unknown how the development would affect flooding, vegetation, wildlife and water quality.

Multiple residential and industrial properties annexed into the city are waiting to be developed. City council is processing two petitions for new apartments. Student housing is being considered near 19th and Main. How does the Lowther proposal affect development plans already in the pipeline?

Lack of information is deeply worrisome because the proposal for the development is nonbinding. If the annexation is approved, voters have no control over what is actually built. Why haven’t these questions been answered?

Why are anti-annexation lawn signs around Philomath being vandalized? What is the developer afraid of?

Vote no on measure 2-102.

Caroline Ajootian

Philomath

Annexation

hurts schools

Dear Editor:

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 equals 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 two 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 extracurricular activities.

Class sizes at all Philomath schools are already larger than the national average.

More children equals 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

Vote experience,

vote for Jackson

Jerry Jackson has already been working hard for us, the citizens of Benton County, by studying the county budget, identifying wasteful procedures under current policy and looking for ways to save our tax dollars for better uses.

Benton County owns much real estate, yet they currently choose to partially use a number of those buildings, resulting in many paid hours for employees to drive back and forth between locations.

Jerry looked at the Hewlett Packard Building 10 which was large enough to house all of the county operations. HP had the office furnishings and was willing to pay for the remodeling that would have been needed. The county could have sold off their current real estate and reinstated tax revenues. The county declined.

Jerry has charted out the Social Security pay increases compared to the county tax increases, which are maxed out every year. This is forcing our senior citizens to lose their homes, adding to the homelessness issue.

Jerry has 20 years of county and public service experience. I have seen him volunteering at many events over the last 25 years. Call Jerry Jackson like I did. He wants to hear the concerns that his community members have and find out how he can help you. That’s the kind of county commissioner we need. Vote for Jerry Jackson.

Debbie Thorpe

Philomath

Water supply

major concern

Dear Editor:

We can live with bumper-to-bumper traffic, higher taxes and overcrowded schools but we cannot live without water. Do you agree? If so, vote no on ballot Measure 2-102 (Chapel Drive annexation).

For the third time in a dozen years, Philomath voters will consider, once again, the annexation of a large parcel initially called the Lowther Family annexation, later renamed the Chapel Drive annexation. The out-of-town developers plan to build 660 houses on the 159-acre tract.

Residents raised numerous objections in previous elections. Again, the negative impact of the development on the long-term reliability of Philomath’s water supply is a major concern.

Philomath obtains water from several sources, each with a problem:

• Philomath relies primarily on several long-held water rights to the Marys River. These rights, however, do not ensure that water will be available when needed, for it all legitimate users drew water from the Marys, the river would run dry.

Over 30 years ago when Philomath’s population was considerably smaller, Westech Engineering Inc., the city’s consultant, wrote: “… although there is enough water available in the Marys River most of each year, during the critical low-flow periods, usually occurring in August and September, there is sometimes little water in the river.”

Due to overuse and low flow, the Marys at times has been out of compliance with state standards.

• Philomath has two wells. The inferior Ninth Street well has not been used since 1985. The quality of the aquifer tapped by the 11th Street well is so poor that it us used infrequently. Westech Engineering observed, “In late 1983, the water levels decreased until water supply became thoroughly unacceptable and the well virtually ran dry.”

• In the mid-1990s, Philomath signed an agreement with Corvallis to purchase water from its Rock Creek source. Unfortunately, the current 10-year contract can be terminated at any time. When it expires at the end of fiscal year 2016-17, Corvallis will have the option to grant an extension.

“Water, water everywhere” (in the winter).

“Nor any drop to drink” (in the summer).

Hopefully, with responsible long-range planning, the plight of poet Coleridge’s “Ancient Mariner” will not become a reality in Philomath.

May Dasch

Philomath

Not enough

info for ‘yes’

Dear Editor:

Philomath citizens should vote “no” on the Chapel/Applegate annexation. There has been too much deception and not enough information given to do otherwise. Here are some examples:

• The political action committee supporting the annexation is called “Philomath Citizens for Stability and Prosperity,” but the officers of this committee are all from Portland and Gresham and they are, in fact, the developers who stand to make millions if the annexation goes through.

• This same group has suggested this massive development (the population of Waldport on this piece of land) will bring tax dollars to the schools, but let’s do the math: Millions to the out-of-town developers. Millions to the family that owns the property. And maybe a few thousand for the schools, if all goes as stated. What a silly way to fund schools! Better we should give the schools a million dollars directly, and forget this risky, irresponsible development.

• Even though the Oregon Department of Transportation and Benton County sent warnings to the Philomath Planning Commission that we do not have the roads to withstand this development, there will be no official traffic study until after the election. But really, don’t we all know that putting 1,200 more cars on the highway would be a problem. The highway is a problem right now!

• Whether Philomath has the water to support 660 more homes (in addition to the developments already in progress) is in hot dispute, but there will be no water study until after the election.

Finally, you can’t build a successful community just by building homes it requires a three step process: First, create infrastructure and resources. Second, create jobs for future homeowners by bringing in new businesses and enhancing the businesses we already have. Third, build some homes once there are jobs to support home ownership.

Now that’s a plan I could not only support, but would actively work on. But first we must stop trying to jump to step three without doing steps one and two, something the kids in our schools are all being taught.

Mark Weiss

Philomath

Another reason

to check 'no' box

Dear Editor:

I was sure glad to be on a bike today while riding through Philomath. There was a long line of cars on Highway 20/34 moving like snails with one lane of traffic.

I can't imagine the impact of increased traffic if the Measure 2-102 passes and hundreds of houses are built. It's interesting to find out that ODOT does not plan to widen the highway in the foreseeable future.

In addition, ODOT sent a letter to the city manager (ODOT file No. 7185) recommending that the city direct the applicant to update the traffic analysis for the entire 159 acres using current information. To date this has not been done.

It's just another reason to vote "no" on Measure 2-102.

Eliza Elliott

Philomath

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