City joins with Lake Oswego to file appeal with West Linn council

by: FILE PHOTO - The Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership has appealed its plans to expand a water treatment plant to the West Linn City Council after the city’s Planning Commission denied the plans last month. FILE PHOTOThe city of Tigard is down, but it’s not out in its plans to expand a water treatment plant in West Linn.

Two months after the West Linn Planning Commission denied the Lake Oswego-Tigard water partnership the chance to expand a water treatment plant it operates in a West Linn residential neighborhood, the group has appealed to the West Linn City Council.

“We just don’t agree the Planning Commission made the appropriate decision, and think they erred in their decision,” said Tigard Public Works Director Dennis Koellermeier.

In November, planning commissioners said they could find no benefit to allowing the water partnership to expand the treatment plant and install a new water pipeline from the plant to Lake Oswego and Tigard.

Tigard and Lake Oswego officials on Friday filed an appeal with the West Linn City Council, which will have the final say on whether or not the treatment plant will be expanded.

“We believe we have met the code requirements, and we want another body to hear this information,” Koellermeier said.

Lake Oswego has operated a treatment plant in West Linn for 45 years, and West Linn has approved expansions several times.

Tigard and Lake Oswego have been working on a new water treatment plant since 2008, giving Tigard access to its own water supply for the first time.

But neighbors near the plant fought a years-long campaign against this most recent expansion, testifying before the Planning Commission that it would reduce property values, among other concerns.

Koellermeier said the partnership was able to fine-tune its plans for the site by reducing the treatment plants footprint and shortening the construction period, as well as adding more landscaping and other amenities.

The expansion would also allow West Linn access to the treatment plant’s water on an emergency basis.

“West Linn has water problems. We have water problems,” said Lake Oswego Mayor Jack Hoffman. “Our project helps all three cities solve their problems in the most cost effective way.”

Tigard Mayor Craig Dirksen agreed.

“Regional cooperation through partnerships is an asset,” Dirksen said. “Without it, none of us could afford the quality, basic services essential for our quality of life and job growth.”

Since the decision in November, the partnership has stalled its plans for the site until the West Linn City Council has a chance to make its decision.

“We have done a slow down,” Koellermeier said. “Things that did not have to be on the fast track we were able to push back a few months.”

Koellermeier said should the West Linn City Council approve the expansion, the plant should be built in time for the 2016 timeline, when Tigard’s contract with Portland runs out.

“We see it as another step in the road,” Koellermeier said.

Should the West Linn City Council side with its Planning Commission, the partnership can appeal the decision again, to the Land Use Board of Appeals.

Koellermeier wouldn’t speculate on whether the partnership would put the issue before LUBA, saying he would wait to see what the West Linn council decides.

“What the partnership would do is just speculation,” Koellermeier said. “We are convinced that we have a good argument. It’s a righteous project, and the best project for West Linn and Tigard.”

The West Linn City Council should make its decision in mid-January.

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