LANE COUNTY

PUBLIC HEARING

November 22, 2004

6:30 p.m.

Harris Hall Main Floor

APPROVED 3/9/05

 

Commissioner Bobby Green, Sr., presided with Commissioners Bill Dwyer and Anna Morrison present. Peter Sorenson was present via telephone.Don Hampton was excused.Faye Stewart was invited to sit with the commissioners.County Administrator Bill Van Vactor, Assistant County Counsel Stephen Vorhes and Recording Secretary Melissa Zimmer were also present.

 

1. PUBLIC HEARING/In the Matter of Recommending Applicable Substantive County Land Use Criteria to the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council for the Proposed West Cascade Energy Facility near Coburg (NBA & PM 7/28/04).

 

Green explained the nature of the public hearing is being treated as a legislative process with the notice and testimony.He said this is technically not a land use hearing as the Board is not the ultimate decision maker.He said they are performing the Public Hearing in the role as a special advisory group that will make a recommendation to the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council who will make the final decision.He noted the hearing is an opportunity for public input.He said that following the Public Hearing, staff would make a final list of the substantive County land use criteria and schedule deliberation with the Board on December 8, 2004.He said the Board has until December 15 to make recommendations to the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council.He said there is no record to keep open.He said they would continue to receive letters and comments in writing.

 

Kent Howe, Land Management, explained that County staff has identified the applicable substantive criteria in draft form.He noted that tonightís testimony is not to hear the opinions on the merits of the application, but to hear from the public about what the criteria are in Lane Code that would be applicable to this application.He indicated that staff would create a comprehensive listing of the County land use requirements based on input to the Board that will then be sent to the Energy Facility Siting Council.

 

Randy Henderson, Junction City, represented the Lane County Farm Bureau.He said the concern of the Farm Bureau is primarily loss of agricultural lands.He said agriculture generated sales on products of $106 million in Lane County.He noted there is continued erosion of agricultural land and they want to see the agricultural land base maintained so they can continue to supply the economic engine to the economy of Lane County.He said they were concerned about the compatibility problems with the power plant and the agricultural lands.He thought this was a violation of Goal 3 at the state level.He said they were opposed to the facility.

 

Donald Nelson, Coburg, indicated there are five new sites being looked at, with Cascade Energy being one of them.He noted Lane Code 16.212 states that a power generation facility shall not preclude more than 12 acres from use as a commercial agricultural enterprise.He noted that more than half of those acres will be used as wetland mitigation.He added without an exemption to Goal 3, they donít need the mitigation of the additional 55 acres.He said they could keep all 107 acres in productive farm use.

 

Jim Lockard, Coburg Rural Fire District Board Member, Coburg stated he was against the power plant.He said if the power plant goes in, there would be a continuous stench contaminating the air quality.He commented that the Coburg Rural Fire District is not trained or equipped to handle large spills of chemicals or catastrophic emergencies, nor do they want to be.††† He said it would take time to assure safety.

 

Dean Mordhorst, Coburg, stated he is one mile from the proposed West Cascade Plant and the wind is strong towards his direction all summer long.He indicated he grows fruit on this farm and it would be negatively impacted.He thought this was a misuse of land because natural gas is in a crisis.

 

Janet Calvert, President, League of Women Voters, Eugene, thanked the Board for allowing the public to comment on this land use issue.She said there are many impacts a power plant of this size might have on the most populated areas of Lane County.She noted the proposed site has been zoned exclusive farm use for many years.She said it is historic and high value farmland.She commented that enacting exceptions to Lane County Rural Comprehensive Plan should be done judiciously in order to prevent future inroads into high value agricultural land.She noted the building of towers and power lines is contrary to State Goal 5.She stated the goal addresses natural resources, open space, scenic and historic areas.She noted the proposed plant would detract from the scenic and open space vistas.She stated they question the need when balanced against removal of productive high value farmland.

 

Tom Bowerman, Eugene, reported his residence is in the Coburg area of influence.He said he and his family own about 400 acres of farm and forestland and the proposal impacts them directly.He noted that Lane Code 16.212 as it directly relates to statewide goals and guidelines for developing on agricultural lands under Section b) Implementation states that non-farm uses within farm use zones should be minimized to allow for maximum agricultural productivity.He was concerned about the production of water vapor from the plant.†† He said under the application the proposal says they would use 56 million gallons of water per day of which 80 to 90% is going to be discharged into the atmosphere in the form of cooling vapor.He was concerned about the effect the project will have on agricultural productivity and the lack of solar gain as a consequence of additional fog accumulation because of the water vapor output from the plant. He said the Board needed to get involved with this and apply this particular standard.

 

Carolyn Kinan, Coburg, stated she lives within a mile of the proposed site and across the street from the dairy that will be next door to the plant.She said on her property she has fruit and a vegetable garden and she and her family eat from the garden.She said if this plant is built, then her property has no value.She asked if she had a Measure 37 claim.She said her property would be unlivable.

 

John Sundquist, Coburg, stated he is against the power plant.He reported that he and his family own and operate a 33 acre farm located less than three miles west of the proposed plant site.His concerns about siting the plant on EFU zoned land relate to Lane Code 16.212 4 (jj) and to the included requirements of Lane Code 16.21210 f-g will not force a significant change in accepted farm or forest practices on surrounding lands devoted to farm and forest use and will not significantly increase the cost of accepted farm or forest practices.He noted that his farm has income including a retail farm stand, u-pick fruit, a nursery and fresh market sale of fruits and vegetables.He commented that the proposed plant would adversely affect all of the income sources.He thought the Southern Willamette Valley was the wrong place to have a power plant.

 

Robert Emmons, Fall Creek, commented on behalf of Land Watch Lane County and on his behalf.He said the proposed power plant would be sited on an exclusive farm use zone.He quoted Kent Howe who stated in accord with Lane Code 16, siting a natural gas fired power plant on the high value farmland in the zone requires special use permits and exceptions for the facility.††† He asked why they have zoning if it doesnít protect the best use for which it is intended.He noted the power plant would draw from the McKenzie River; negatively impacting threatened Spring Chinook by reducing flows throughout the final seven miles of the river.He added there would be air pollutants going out into the atmosphere.He noted most of the power from the plant would be sold to distant markets, which the pollution is delivered to Lane County.

 

Lisa Arkin, Eugenestated she is a staff member for Oregon Toxics Alliance.††† She asked for the Board to interpret Land Use Code for unique criteria that relates specifically to the conditions in Lane County: high value farm soils, the historic designation of the City of Coburg, and the businesses that are based on a historic rural character and draw in tourism because of the unique designation.She thought Lane Code Section 16.212 (4)(jj) doesnít always take into account the special features.She asked the planning staff to look for ways to protect the historic nature of Coburg.She asked the Board to consider Lane Code 16.212 (4)(kk) that deals with putting reclaimed industrial water on exclusive farm use land.††† She said according to the application, the industrial water will be stored in holding ponds and discharged to the Muddy Creek irrigation canal.She noted as much as 347 gallons per minute of water could be discharged and it will enter the agricultural system where it will mix with water for agricultural use.She asked for farming practices to cover organic farming practices. She hoped the Board would encourage the siting council that the criteria should encompass stringent farm practices.

 

Pat Bitner, Eugene, stated she represented the Lane County Audubon Society.She said Lane County Audubonís concerns on the environment from the power plant are many.She said that air particulates will be carried over long distances by wind and it could make lakes and streams acidic, damaging sensitive forests and changing the nutrient balance in coastal waters and large river basins. She indicated a private concernwhat increased levels of pollution a gas-fired power plant would bring to the Southern Willamette Valley.She commented that people with asthma would be affected with the toxins.

 

George Towe, Eugene, stated he is a retired physicist.He commented that the proposed plant when operating at capacity would require in excess of 6 million gallons of water per day.He noted that most of the 6 million gallons per day would be evaporated along with 1,000 tons of gas and particulant matter per year.He commented they have a surplus of energy in the area and the proposal will be used to assist the people in California.

 

Jan Wilson, Eugene, stated she is an attorney and represents the Save Our Valley organization.She said they were asking the Board to identify the criteria and their interpretation as it will carry weight and get deference when they get to FSEC.She noted they had already identified that Lane Code Section 16.212 (4)(jj) is the main criteria for siting the facility and it invokes Section 16.212 10 (f, g) that discusses existing farm practices.She said the Board needed to identify what the existing farm practices are and how are they different than existing farm practices anywhere else.She said they were talking about organic farm that is tourist based.She asked the Board to identify as many possible special farming practices and put forth that interpretation.She said some of the criteria require evaluation of all of the statewide land use goals.She added that even though need is not a specific criteria for FSEC, need comes in under Goal 9 that is economic development.She asked the Board how Measure 37 applies to this as ORS 197. 646 requires local jurisdictions to amend their comprehensive plan to take into account new or amended land use statutes.

 

Charles Cory, Coburg, agreed with many things that were said. He commented there are externalities that will impact Lane County and the Southern Willamette Valley from a power plant.He said exceptions to the land use code would have to be made to accommodate the proposal.He said the community expects some benefits to counteract the negative impacts.He noted the power would go outside of Lane County and Oregon.He thought a power plant should be in a place that is more applicable to zoning regulations.

 

Mishka Solan, Eugene, stated he operates a certified organic farm off of Beacon Drive.He commented that aside from the quality of air and the river pollution, the inversion in the winter would create a situation where there is soil accumulation from all of the particulate matters that come out of the power plant.He said this would threaten his ability to maintain the certification of organic as well as challenge his ability to market the items.

 

Rachael Debuse, said she farms using organic methods in Class 1 soil, on the west side of the Willamette River, near the confluence of the McKenzie and the Willamette Rivers.She noted that Lane Code 16.212 seeks to protect the existing farms within the impact zone of a proposed plant from significant changes in farming practices and farming costs.She stated they have customers who rely on their clean produce because they are chemically sensitive.She was concerned for the health of the dairy herds as the effect on local milk will be impacted.

 

Kevin Jones, Eugene, said he runs a full circle community organic farm on the urban growth boundary of Eugene.He said they grow vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers, have chickens and dairy cows.He added they teach on farm education with the 4J School District.He said the impact of the power plant would be large.He commented that the emissions from the plant coupled with the summer wind would impact their farming practices.He thought there were safer ways to meet the power needs.He said if the applicant is set on this type of power generation, he thought they should look to places for abundant water and small air pollution risks.†† He commented that standards for organic farming are rigorous and require a high degree of soil and plant health measured by plant tissue and soil testing.He didnít think when laws were written governing the siting of energy facilities on farmland; they were addressing the threat to organic farms.He said the complete loss of their annual produce and milk due to contamination would lead to a loss of $30,000 loss in value for the year.He added if they lose the education, there would be potential losses of $10,000.He added the loss of their farm would lead to the inability to continue farming.

 

Lisa Kay, Coburg, stated she owns Red Dog Ranch and raises sheep and no spray vegetables.She commented that some of the largest value farmland is in the Southern Willamette Valley.She said changing the EFU land to industrial use impacts small farms whose economy is often dependent upon agricultural tourism as well as agricultural products. She said they are worried about the toxic runoff onto their pasture and crops.She was also concerned about water loss and her well going dry.She added with fog, sunlight would be taken away and they would have lost a major source of the way they do farming.She asked the Board to vote against the power plant.

 

Sandra Bishop, Eugene, commented in the Lane Code Section 16.212, they are looking at an exceptions process to exclusive farm use.She encouraged the Board to stand their ground on this.She noted historic farmlands with families that had been farming for generations.She commented that this was an asset of the County that needed to be protected.She thought the power plant was an incompatible use with farmland.She noted that air is a land use issue because the toxics being put into the air will definitely affect the land.She added that water rights is an issue and the water issues need to be carefully examined.She added there is flooding that also takes places in this area.

 

Carlos Barrera, Eugene, agreed with Bowerman about the effects of the air pollution. He thought this plant would affect a larger area.He stated the likelihood of acid rain created by confluence from the smoke stacks. He thought this would have a negative impact over a larger region and the agricultural industry.He didnít think this was something that Oregon could afford.

 

Mary Ann Smith, Coburg, said she and her husband own five acres a mile and a half from the proposed site.She stated they have 350 filbert trees.She noted that over the years, the Muddy Creek through natural use had suffered erosion on her property.She thought if the water was allowed to run for long periods of time throughout the year, they would suffer more erosion.She thought removing high value farmland for industrial use degrades five acre parcels that are limited in the County.She commented that it is a heavy industrial use with high impact; it doesnít seem to be an appropriate location.

 

David Munk, Director, Oregon Toxics Alliance, Eugene, commented that all of the land use criteria that they thought was relevant to the application had been addressed.He noted that Marcus had an incomplete application with the County.He encouraged the Board to make sure they hold the opportunity to identify additional criteria if the application changes.He thought FSEC would defer to the Boardís interpretation of the Lane County Land Use Criteria.He thought the plant would have a detrimental impact on all of the surrounding farms and businesses in the metro area.

 

Dan Smith, stated that Goal 3 and State Goal 5 is important to him.He said he has been on his property for almost 30 years and land use codes that come in 1973, 16.212 along with the adjacent land codes have made thousands of people conform to the code.He said the power plant is close to his house and his family and they will have to suffer the consequences of a large visible industrial plant.He noted there were codes in the County before 1973 that Measure 37 will not affect because they were in effect earlier and those codes should still apply.He asked the Board to look into those codes.

 

Bev Schindler, Eugene, encouraged the Board to interpret the criteria as they apply uniquely to Lane County.She said she is a member of the American Farmland Trust.She noted that farming is an economic force in the county.She said people donít want to see their food impacted.She asked the Board to keep in mind that there will be micro impacts on everyone.

 

Jeffrey Leonard, Coburg, stated he owns two retail shops in Downtown Coburg.He hoped the Board could find in the code applicable sections that have to do with economic development as it relates to retail businesses.He commented that if this plant were approved, he would have to look at moving his business where they are not faced with visual blight and bad smell.

 

Moishe Immelman, Eugene, said everyone wants a healthy livable community.He commented this is one of the worldís greatest centers of organic farming.

 

There being no one further signed up to speak, Commissioner Morrison closed the Public Hearing.

 

Green noted the Board of Commissioners has to make a recommendation as a Board by December 15, 2004.

 

There being no further business, Commissioner Green adjourned the meeting at 8:15 p.m.

 

 

Melissa Zimmer

Recording Secretary