Planning commission will review plant and pipeline applications

by: VERN UYETAKE - LOT will hold an open house Oct. 10 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the treatment plant. As part of the open house, LOT will mark the location of the proposed building sites with helium balloons to give neighbors an idea of location and height. The West Linn Planning Commission is gearing up for the next round of public hearings regarding a proposed expansion of the Lake Oswego water treatment plant and the proposed installation of a new water pipeline.

During its Sept. 19 work session, the planning commission discussed a timeline and how to conduct the hearings.

Hearings for the water treatment plant were held this spring, but Lake Oswego suspended the application in May so the commission could hear both the treatment plant and pipeline applications at the same time.

So far, the commission has set two public hearing dates, Oct. 17 and 18, to hear from the applicant (Lake Oswego-Tigard Partnership, or LOT), city staff and the public.

The city is expecting a full house and a lot of public testimony, thus the two nights and possibly more dates for the hearing.

The proposed expansion of the water treatment plant has been hotly contested by surrounding neighbors as well as others in West Linn.

Lake Oswego has operated a water treatment plant between Kenthorpe Way and Mapleton Drive in West Linn’s Robinwood neighborhood since 1968. In cooperation with the city of Tigard, Lake Oswego now wants to expand the plant and run a new pipeline to address the future water needs of both cities.

The plant, which will hold up to 2 million stored gallons of water underground and handle up to 38 million gallons each day, also serves as an emergency backup water supply for West Linn.

The project also involves the installation of a 4-foot-wide pipeline from the Clackamas River, through a portion of Mary S. Young State Park, to the water treatment plant and then down Highway 43 toward Lake Oswego.

If approved, the phased expansion of the plant is expected to begin in spring 2013, and the entire project, including the pipeline, will be complete in fall 2015, with a total construction period of two and a half years.

West Linn residents have continually expressed concern about the plant expansion and pipeline installation. Residents have cited concerns about years of disruption, reduced property values, noise, light, construction traffic, risk of flooding and burst pipes, chemicals and the appropriateness of the site.

LOT officials initially wanted to separate the plant and pipeline applications to expedite the process and start construction on the plant expansion. But, after hearing from the planning commission and the community, LOT asked the commission to hear the two applications together.

Another reason listed by LOT for suspending the hearing is to address the Lake Oswego and West Linn emergency water agreement. Under an existing agreement with Lake Oswego, West Linn has an intertie at Old River Road and Kenthorpe Way that the city can tap into in an emergency. However, with the current water supply, Lake Oswego cannot guarantee extra water in an emergency during peak water use seasons. With the plant expansion and the formation of LOT, West Linn will need to enter into a new agreement. West Linn has not yet approved the new agreement.

The water system intertie has long been listed as the main benefit of the project to the citizens of West Linn, a determining factor in the LOT application’s approval.

The final reason for suspending the hearing was to meet with West Linn neighbors again and work on further mitigation. The planning commission is setting aside seven minutes for a consultant working with the residents to report on his meetings with neighbors.

LOT has continued its discussions with Robinwood neighbors, and next week, crews will work along the proposed pipeline route on Mapleton Drive to mark the rights of way and the pipe centerline.

Also, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Oct. 10, an open house will be held at the treatment plant. As part of the open house, LOT will mark the location of the proposed building sites with helium balloons to give neighbors an idea of location and height.

During the Oct. 17 public hearing, the planning commission will first hear a city staff review and analysis of revisions to the water treatment plant proposal and then a report on the pipeline application.

The applicant, LOT, will then have a chance to speak about both projects.

Public testimony will then be heard. Residents will be allotted up to seven minutes each to speak, up from the planning commission’s typical five-minute limit because two applications are involved. Neighborhood associations will be allotted 15 minutes for testimony. All testimony heard during last spring’s hearings will also carry forward for commission consideration.

After all public testimony, LOT will have 20 minutes for a rebuttal.

Depending on the amount of public testimony, the planning commission could deliberate and make a decision on the two projects by Nov. 1 with the decisions signed Nov. 6. If it is appealed, and it most likely will be appealed, it could go before the city council at its Jan. 7 meeting.

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