Link to Molalla I and I report: http://www.cityofmolalla.com/sites/default/files/fileattachments/public_works/page/1642/2016-0209_final_2015_molalla_annual_ii_report.pdf
In a project coordinated by Molalla River Watch and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), volunteers are surveying amphibian egg mass surveys in Clackamas County. So, if you have a pond or wetlands on your property, or know of a place and want to find out what lives there, help the experts know where to look.
You may even have Western Pond Turtles. Yet another reason to protect our streams, and manage our wastewater.
The Molalla Planning Commission meets at 6:30PM, on Wednesday February 4th, at City Hall. At this meeting, they will again hear a proposal that was tabled in early January, on a proposal to rezone a parcel in northwest Molalla, to allow high-density residential development.
The site is a single-family residential property measuring nearly six acres total. The property is roughly triangular. A long curve of the abandoned Molalla Forest Road is to the southwest, the Elementary School is to the east, and Toliver Road is to the north.
The development proposal is being handled by Frank Walker, for the Donald Itschner family estate. The site is relatively level, with a small yard and garden area near the house and shop building. Roughly half of the property is in mature deciduous forest. It is adjacent to a school, a ballfield, and an abandoned corridor (the historic Molalla Forest Road). There is a small creek running through the center of the property. As is typical of the area, there are wetlands with soils that are seasonally saturated with water.As shown on the Google satellite image below, the property (orange ellipse) is one of the only natural and forested areas within walking distance of hundreds of densely packed homes to the north (large area outlined in red). There are no parks serving this large subdivision area. Here are three close-up satellite views, from Google Maps. The first shows the home/garden in the northern portion of the property. The second shows most of the southern portion of the property. The third shows the western half of the apartment complex to the north, in the middle of the large Molalla subdivision area; this is what high density development would look like, if the City approves the zoning change.:
A Better Plan
The location and natural qualities of this property make it an absolute no-brainer for the City of Molalla. We need to develop this property as a valuable asset for this area: a corridor trail to serve the community with parks, recreation, and wildlife habitat. City of Molalla should work toward acquiring most or all of this property. Generous grants are available (from both state and federal sources), but the City needs to provide the see money for those grants. Thus, the City should NOT be granting property tax emptions, as the City Council did on January 28th for ‘Pacific Fibre Products, Inc.’.
The City’s goals should be to:
- preserve the forest area as a refreshing wildlife habitat and nature-viewing area;
- develop picnic and play facilities on the non-forested southern portion of the parcel;
- make minimal improvements to the Molalla Forest Road between Highway 213 and Highway 211, as a bicycle and pedestrian corridor, to accommodate the recreational needs of area residents;
- over time, pursue expansion of this bicycle and pedestrian corridor, using the historic Molalla Forest Road, all the way to the Molalla River Recreation Area.
- Notice of 1/7/2015 Hearing for Re-Zoning Property (P44-2014) — 3-pages total. A 2-page notice and a 1-page exhibit, showing tax lots, zoning, and dimensions.
- Staff Report – Application to Re-Zone Property — 5-pages total. Includes Overview/Background, Public Notice, and Staff Findings (which appear to be thin and superficial).
- Wetland Map & Assessment — 3-pages total. From the Molalla Riparian Inventory, with fieldwork by Pacific Habitat Services on 6/6/2001.
- FUNDING: Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) — Generous matching grants provided for property acquisition and development projects. The funds come from federal oil-leases, and the grants are administered by each state.
- FUNDING: Local Government Grant Program — the state provides millions each year to cities, counties, and regional authorities. The funds come from Lottery.
- 2/5/2015 Meeting Agenda — for Molalla Planning Commission
…the following is Susan Hansen’s Letter to the Editor, sent to the Molalla Pioneer…
Thank you, Molalla Pioneer, for printing this letter in the 1/28/2015 print edition.
With transparency, citizens can know how well their public employees are serving. Thus, if the Molalla Sewage Treatment Plant (MSTP) is well run, transparency lets us know, so we can be confident and appreciative of a job well done. But, if the Molalla Sewage Treatment Plant is poorly run, transparency empowers citizens to put pressure on elected officials to correct problems, and restore needed efficiencies. Unfortunately, when it comes to sewage services, the leadership of Molalla has a history of impeding transparency.
As a case in point, consider how poorly MSTP handled transparency eight years ago, when they signed a Consent Decree. MSTP was required to post weekly data reports for the two-year duration of the Consent Decree. They failed. Only a few of the weekly reports and some of the monthly reports were posted. Years later, the website was changed making it difficult to find the report copies. (click here to view all reports as copied on 1/25/2015)
Anyway, here’s the background on transparency failures with the Consent Decree of 2006…
In late May 2006, multiple groups and individuals filed a civil action against the City of Molalla charging violations in waste handling at the Molalla Sewage Treatment Plant. Roughly eight months later, a settlement was reached between the parties, in the form of a Consent Decree. The key terms of this Consent Decree, which remained in effect for two years, included:
- For two years, City of Molalla would do additional weekly water testing at the following locations: (para.16)
- the Feyrer Park Bridge
- immediately upstream of the City’s Molalla River outfall
- at the downstream edge of the mixing zone, which is 50 feet downstream of the City’s Molalla River outfall
- the Highway 211 bridge
- the point where Fryer Park Road crosses the irrigation ditch
- and, at the point where the City’s effluent pipeline crosses the irrigation ditch.
- When conducting these additional weekly water tests, City of Molalla would use grab samples to analyze for Biological Oxygen Demand (BODS), total suspended solids, ammonia, e-coli, temperature, and pH. (para.16)
- For two years, City of Molalla would post data on its website. This would include both the weekly analysis results at the above six locations, and the monthly/quarterly MSTP monitoring reports filed with DEQ, in accordance with the NPDES Permit. (para.16)
- City of Molalla would pay $6,324 in civil penalties (para.22)
- City of Molalla would pay $50,000 in legal fees (para.24)
- City of Molalla would pay $110,000 to fund a supplemental environmental project administered by Molalla Riverwatch (para.23)
And how well did the City of Molalla do? Well, some of the monthly reports were posted online, and some of the additional weekly water test results were posted, too. So, during some times of the two year Consent Decree, citizens were able to see the data. But the data was spotty. And, unfortunately, once the two year requirement of the Consent Decree was done, Molalla quit posting their monthly reports.
At 7:00pm on Wednesday, January 28th, the Molalla City Council and the Molalla Urban Renewal Agency (MURA) will conduct Regular and Executive Meetings. The public is invited to attend the Regular Meeting sessions, which will be held at the Adult Center.
In preparation, the City of Molalla posted two large PDF documents, which can be viewed/downloaded via these links:
- Molalla City Council Agenda, 38p (1/28/15 meeting) (30 MB)
- MURA meeting, agenda & advance packet, 56p (1/28/15 meeting) (10 MB)
Bear Creek Recovery reviewed the documents. Three items were found that relate to the BCR mission: a scope/budget approval for contract work related to NPDES, spending approval of seven flow meters to monitor sewer I&I, and proposed tax abatement for Pacific Fibre Products, Inc. Two of these items were already approved; the third item is proposed. Details and links are provided below:
(1) Brown & Caldwell Project Scope:
NOTE: NPDES stands for National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System. This is a federal system managed by the U.S. EPA, to ensure proper management and handling of pollutants so that water quality is protected. An NPDES permit is required before wastewater can be discharged into Bear Creek or the Molalla River. Application of sewage sludge (aka, biosolids) on farmland and other sites, is also subject to federal guidelines.
This issue was brought up at the 12/17/2014 Molalla City Council meeting, and approved.
(2) MSTP Flow Meters for I&I:
NOTE: ‘I & I’ is inflow and infiltration. Both terms refer to the invasion of extra and unwanted water into the raw sewage flow. Infiltration is water that leaks via poor pipe seals or pipe fractures. Inflow is the addition of rainwater and other liquids that is improperly piped into the sewer lines. An ‘I&I Analysis’ is done to assess the quality of a sewer system in terms of leakage.
This issue was brought up at the 1/14/2015 Molalla City Council meeting, and approved.
(3) Proposed Tax Abatement for Pacific Fibre:
NOTE: The following was included in the 1/14/2015 ‘City Manager’s Report’:This proposal seeks to continue to waive tax payments for a company operating in Molalla. In trade, the company is to pay new employees at a high wage level, IF they hire any new employees. Molalla forgoes tax revenues in exchange for what is potentially (?likely?) zero benefit.
The proposal is listed cryptically on the agenda, as a ‘5 year enterprise zone agreement’, with no mention of the company involved, or the impacts of that company (both positive and negative). A city deficient in parks and behind on maintaining and upgrading it’s sewers is thus giving away needed funds.
Is this a local example of ‘Crony Capitalism‘? Will the City Council reject this bad idea? Will they ask the hard questions on Wednesday, or do citizens need to speak up?
Here’s a link to an analysis by BCR.
Welcome to the BCR website!
Bear Creek starts in the highlands southeast of Molalla, and flows through the south side of Molalla, to Rock Creek and the Pudding River south of Aurora.
Sadly, this creek has been neglected, contaminated, and all but killed. The maps, data, documents and other records compiled on this website are provided to inform the Public, to help us all work together for a healthy Bear Creek and a vibrant community.
To learn more, please explore this public service website. Check out the information posted in the FrogBlog. Use the search function to locate PDF copies and documents (for viewing, or to download) related to Bear Creek issues. See also the links in the Menu Bar at the top of this page.
And please let us know what other information you feel needs to be researched and shared.
The main feature will be a discussion of agricultural water rights and agricultural water practices, by representatives from the Oregon Water Master and Clackamas County Soil and Water.
Everyone is welcome to attend to have their questions about water use answered by experts. Visit Bear Creek Recovery.org or call 503-789-7179 for more information.