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October 27, 1998
JOINT BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
LANE COUNTY PLANNING COMMISSION MEETING
Commissioners' Conference Room 5:30 p.m.

Steve Moe, Lane County Planning Commission presided, with Commissioners Steve Cornacchia, Ellie Dumdi, Bobby Green, Sr., Peter Sorenson and Cindy Weeldreyer present. County Administrator Bill Van Vactor and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.

1. DISCUSSION/Lane County Rural Comprehensive Plan Ground Water Provisions.

Kent Howe, Land Management, reported that tonight's proposal is to look at developed parcels of land, surface water rights, and how to connect the long term availability of water.

He added a periodic review is a requirement countywide and the information presented tonight is in a neutral fashion. He said there are antiquated code provisions that need to be updated for the 21st century.

Jim Mann, Land Management, stated the current code addresses quality and sufficiency for developed land served, but does not get into the long term impacts on different areas. He added in looking at creating residential densities in rural areas, development has to be within groundwater capabilities of that area.

Ralph Christensen, Geologist, EGR & Associates, presented a slide presentation on ground water. He reported that in the McKenzie and Willamette Valley, the Willamette River is the primary aquifer for Lane County, and the coastal dams are the next important aquifer. He said the rest of Lane County has limitations on its water supply. He said LCDC Goal 5 advises to keep the natural resource base within the carrying capacity. He added there are alternatives to water use, and with the different sources of water available, it allows planners to plan on how things should be in the future. He said ground water does have some limitations, and Lane County has ordinances where there needs to be a demonstration of adequate water supply. He said the present ordinance was adopted in 1998, it is the most sophisticated in the state, but flaws make it difficult to adopt some procedures. He said his final proposal is to take a number of people (hydrogeologists, engineers and other land use attorneys and consultants) offering all sides of the issues, then working through the program and giving it to staff. He gave a demonstration on how well pumping water works. He said the County has to resolve protecting aquifers by not stopping people from using their wells, but to know their limitations.

Christensen said he recommends a storage system and a small pump so water comes out of a storage tank. He said a well will last years longer if it is done that way. He said having water management plans is an alternative in areas where water is tight .

Cornacchia questioned Christensen discussing a private sector response to a problem associated with development. He asked if the Board of Commissioners might see from this exercise a recommendation in water limited areas.

Christensen responded if there is not sufficient water, a water management plan can be used to limit water use.

Cornacchia questioned the methodology for the water quality status of a particular area because of the dynamic that was discussed about wells.

Christensen responded it is something he is recommending currently to all of his clients.

Cornacchia wanted to know what role the government should play.

Christensen said it is a critical issue the County needs to work with.

Cornacchia asked if there were any volunteers who would be willing to work on this plan.

Christensen responded another hydrogeologist from this area, Melia McKee, volunteered but he has not been able to contact anyone else. He said he would appreciate as many as possible, particularly on the technical side as there will be technical issues on drafting language, and he wanted land use attorneys for their expertise.

Cornacchia asked about the time frame for something for staff to look at and then forward to the Board of Commissioners for discussion.

Howe responded that March 3 was the final date staff put in their schedule to draft a proposed amendment. He added with citizen involvement and the Planning Commission, if they can get those consultants in on both sides, a better product wouldn't be available by that time. He said there will be some public hearing arguments that will need to take place before it goes to the Board.

Cornacchia reported he was ready to move forward and state the truth about enough water for developments, where there must be sufficient water for the development and neighbors.

Weeldreyer questioned Land Management staff about pending applications, and if the Carol Ott case in Creswell was an uncommon issue.

Howe responded the Carol Ott case was uncommon, but issues they are addressing are common, countywide. He added no application is on hold that would be amending an aquifer.

Howe said the County is meeting the law and he is starting to see code requirements requiring developers to establish long term water availability.

Green said he appreciates the fact that there is an outside group taking a look at this and recognizing the limitation of staff. He wanted to know what staff's role would be.

Howe said there will be another work session to get a reaction from the Planning Commission and the Board on that draft.

Cornacchia stated the threshold approached by the Board today (whether or not they agree on the code requirements), should be expanded to consider impact outside the development area. He said right now the Code states there needs to be enough water for the applicant. He said this is a way to set standards and requirements outside the area, and how an applicant demonstrates compliance.

Christensen said there are still parts of this particular code that were not written right the first time. He added things need to be cleaned up and recommend and appointing an ad hoc committee. He said they will need to look at alternative sources of developing water and aquifer storage in need to prepare for the future.

Cornacchia suggested to bring back scenarios for public process for the Planning Commission to look at. He said they will be expanding the criteria opportunities. He added he hears they want to expand beyond the applicant's property.

Sorenson said it was a good idea cleaning up the code and making improvement to the Lane County manual. He said the problems with groundwater contamination and increasing conflicts over groundwater and drinking water should be solved locally. He agreed with the development area expanding beyond the applicant's property.

Cornacchia reported what he heard from the Board today is that Christensen's offer is accepted without limitations and constraints and it will be their expectation that he will be engaged in a review of the code and a public process that will lead to some code or ordinance change next year. He thanked Christensen for his offer.

Christensen said people will have to invest in finding out what their development and neighbors will do through aquifer testing.

Green addressed the potential conflict of interest or self-interest. He stated Christensen approached the Board in terms of wanting to do this. He added no one approached him as commissioner other than Christensen and he doesn't remember giving staff direction to go out and find someone to do this. He added this idea was proposed to in a work session.

Cornacchia recommended that Steve Moe continue this discussion with the Planning Commission at their next meeting and find out what else needs to be done. He thanked Mr. Christensen for his time and offer. He added that the Planning Commission has been given empowerment and direction to bring a report back to the Board during the second week of January.

There being no further business, Cornacchia adjourned the meeting at 7:05 p.m.

Melissa Zimmer
Recording Secretary

 

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