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Water plant will not solve West Linn's water issues

(Editor’s note: The following is an open letter to the mayor and city council.)

Open letter to Mayor Kovash and the West Linn City Council:

As you undoubtedly know, the Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership (LOT) will soon be bringing before you an appeal of the recent planning commission decision against them. The decision you make regarding this issue may well be the most important one any of you will make in your tenure of city service. It will affect every citizen of West Linn and as such deserves your full time and attention.

The water treatment plant proposal by LOT has been highly contentious and required hours of time and deliberation by the city’s planning commission. Their decision to deny this project was well thought-out and supported by numerous failures in the proposal to meet the community development code and the city comprehensive plan.

I’m sure as you prepare yourself to hear this appeal that you will study the commission’s findings and opinions. LOT is claiming that the decision to deny was based on emotion and was faulty in its assessment of code interpretation. Given that the commission’s decision was unanimous, this appears to me to be somewhat like a replay call in a football game. Unless it shows beyond any doubt that the ruling on the field was wrong, then that ruling stands. The planning commission did not come by its decision haphazardly. It was an intelligent and considered decision based on the applicability, appropriateness and need for the project. Those seven people saw that this project was not good for the city of West Linn, and that its claim to be a benefit to the city was no more than a thin veil to cover a very self-serving project.

It indeed has been an emotional battle from the beginning. There is no way to keep emotion out of it. Put yourself in the shoes of those who will have to endure years of truck traffic, construction noise and inability to access their own homes, and all to serve the needs of another city that will pay no taxes for being in the same neighborhood where they pay taxes for the privilege to live there. However, make no mistake, the opposition to this project is not limited to its unfortunate neighbors. It includes seven neighborhood associations, West Linn Riverfront Association, Trout Unlimited, WaterWatch Oregon, as well as the West Linn Planning Commission

In its decision, the planning commission called upon the city of West Linn to take control of its own water destiny, and that indeed is your mandate as mayor and council. This proposal will not solve West Linn’s water issues. Regional cooperation is no doubt an integral part of the water solution, but it is only one piece of a multifaceted puzzle. The LOT proposal is ill conceived, inappropriate and bad for the city and citizens of West Linn. I am hoping that you, as stewards of this city, will recognize this, support our planning commission’s decision and heed its call to control our own water destiny.

Scott Gerber is a resident of West Linn.



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