I hope y’all are doing well during the heatwave here. It is a visceral reminder of how delicate our environmental conditions are for plants, animals, and humans; conditions that we have a responsibility to protect whether it be the atmosphere, water, or land.
Today I will give an overview of the new Chevron near Bethany Lake design, some actions you can take, and a summary of the successes of our campaign so far. Oh, and some cute duck photos at the very end too!
The application for third design for the Chevron near Bethany Lake was accepted by Washington County Land Use and Transportation on July 21st. At a high level the changes from the last design include:
(Coffee shop drive-thrus have been undercounted in the standard traffic engineering manual: so much so that they had to further adjust the rate in the 2017 edition of the ITE manual. Unfortunately, those manuals are expensive and proprietary but here are some traffic engineering consultants joking about it)
The Chevron near Bethany Lake is listed as a Type III proposal (see county description) so public comments will likely be accepted by Staff in the next few weeks.
Prepare your public comments: Review the application documents and prepare your written comments now so you can be ready to submit. Please also send me a copy, firstname.lastname@example.org, so we can reproduce them on the website.
Write a letter to the editor or discuss on social media: Continuing to expand the voices involved in this campaign is critical for its success. See our Letters to the Editor page for some ideas.
Save the date October 20th 2022 for the Public Hearing: The County has set the date but we don’t have any further details yet.
It has been well over two years since we all learned about this proposed gas station. And I think many of us had the initial reaction: surely there must be some law about putting 52,000 gallons of petroleum directly next to a public park and wetland. However, we all learned quickly that Washington County has no requirements for gas station setbacks near sensitive areas (unlike lots of other places).
So, in February we sent a petition (now signed by 145 residents!) asking Commissioners to introduce a setback for gas stations near sites like parks and wetlands. Commissioners added this request to the list of potential Land Use projects in March. However, Land Use Staff informed Commissioners last week they aren’t going to even consider this request until early 2023 (see slide 74)!
We have had many new subscribers since the last post two months ago. So, let me summarize this campaign and our progress thus far:
As a land owner I believe in property rights and letting people do the things they are allowed to do by law. However, having a right and doing the right thing are distinctly different. This campaign believes building gas stations less than a 100 ft from public wetlands and parks is harmful- and objective data backs this up (heck, being over 1,400 feet away wasn’t enough to protect Bear Creek in Medford).
That said, Bob Barman, with this third Chevron station design, seems determined to build his gas station directly next to Bethany Lake and put the Lake and Rock Creek Trail wetlands at risk. These trails and their adjoining parks like Pirate Park are some of the most used in the entire THPRD system- imagine our community taking 15 years to recover like the community in Clatskine Oregon.
We will continue to fight Bob Barman’s plan to put us in peril for his gain. Our campaign has a track record of success: we have forced Bob to redesign and reduce the number of pumps at this station from 12 to 10 to 8 (if we keep it up it will be 0 pumps in 4 more revisions, ha!). And in the process defended the minimal setbacks required by the County.
The fact remains though that this station will see deliveries of millions of gallons of petroleum every year and store 40,000+ gallons 80 feet from the parks.
Meanwhile, Washington State, Northern California, and Los Angeles are all waking up to the fact that installing new gas station infrastructure will put their municipalities at economic and environmental risk. And Washington County Commissioner’s have an opportunity to be leaders here as well.
We hope two things happen:
Finally, our neighbors in Bethany are adopting electric vehicles 3x faster than the rest of Oregon and these zip codes have some of the highest electric vehicle density in Oregon. This high EV adoption will cause neighborhood stations like this to quickly go bankrupt- and in many cases bankrupt gas stations are foreclosed on and require Oregon DEQ to spend our tax dollars to cleanup (just one example costing $500k+ in Yamhill, Oregon).
Washington County has an opportunity to lead on land use and gas station infrastructure. But, that will only happen if citizens make noise about their desire for change.
Please consider writing a letter to the editor, emailing Commissioners, or even just forward this email to friends and family in Washington County.
P.S. The young ducks along the Rock Creek Trail are fearless of humans. My son and I stopped for a bike ride and before we knew it we were surrounded by curious feathered friends.