To the Editor:
Thank you for considering the possibility that the proposed Cogentrix plant may be less than wonderful. In your Viewpoint article of 10/24/01 you state, "The local anti-Cogentrix group need to make this process (the Siting Council) and the EFSC the target of their concerns, not local officials. Their attacks on local officials and the chamber are somewhat misguided. For one, local officials don't' have the final say on whether the plant becomes a reality."
In point the fact, the Jefferson County Commissioner are a special advisory group to Cogentrix appointed by the Oregon Energy Siting Council (see the Amended Project Order on file in our library). Also, until the formal application is received, Cogentrix can change from going through the Siting Council to get their permits, back to local land-use permits again; and no matter which route Cogentrix chooses, they must meet local zoning ordinances and fit into the County's Comprehensive Plan.
The City and County had to request permission from the State of Oregon to be allowed to give Cogentrix their five-year tax break, to entice them to come to our community when Cogentrix was considering building a smaller plant in Troutdale that would have used sewer water. Our attitude toward the plant would be much different if it was smaller, located in the industrial zone, used waste water, and provided local power.
In your article you go on to say that the chamber board had decided to not take an official stance on the Cogentrix plant. That is interesting, because the Notice of Intent filed by Cogentrix back in January (also available in our local library) has a letter dated January 5, 2001 and written on Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce letterhead stating:
"This letter is in support of the development of a power generation facility by Grizzly Power, LLC in Jefferson County, Oregon. Such a plant will help diversify our local economy, stimulate growth and create revenue for the county, city and surrounding areas. As presented, we would expect the project to have a relatively small impact on our infrastructure and will be easily accommodated. We look forward to assisting you and your company in your efforts."
Sincerely, [Signed] Janet L. Brown, Jefferson County Chair, and Rick Allen, Mayor of Madras
When our city and county officials express such views in an official capacity, shouldn't they be held accountable by the rest of us?
Isn't it high time that all of these issues be aired in a public meeting for the good of the community? We therefore respectfully request that the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce board, the County Commissioners, and the Mayor of Madras meet with the concerned citizens of Central Oregon in open public debate about the proposed Cogentrix plant on a date of mutual agreement and in a place large enough to accommodate the public. We would suggest a local high school teacher as moderator.
Ron and Mary Zemke