The Yes on 49 folks should count a Measure 37 claimant's illegal road construction as a campaign contribution, because a front page story in today's Salem Statesman Journal should lead many Oregonians to vote "Yes" on Measure 49.
The story, which quotes me several times, points to several reasons why Measure 37 has to be fixed. Oregonians in Action (OIA) likes to say that no Measure 37 subdivisions will move forward unless there is proof of sufficient water for development.
But the Laack subdivision (Leroy Laack is the primary claimant) failed to show this. A Hydro Review report prepared by their hydrogeologist, Malia Kupillas, was failed by independent experts hired by Marion County.
However, two of the three Marion County commissioners – Sam Brentano and Patti Milne – ignored the county ordinance that stops development of a subdivision if a Hydro Review fails.
This shows that public officials can't be counted on to protect the public from harmful effects of Measure 37 claims. The Statesman Journal story pounds another nail into the coffin of OIA's dead-on-arrival "trust us, everything will be all right" spin.
Because the Measure 37 claimants (Laack, Greg Eide, and two other owners) went ahead and started road construction without either Marion County or DEQ permits. For five days, D8 Caterpillars illegally tore up high-value Oregon farmland until the county finally stopped this madness.
We can't figure out why it took so long for Marion County to recognize the obvious illegality. I filed a complaint with Code Enforcement the evening of Tuesday, September 18 (we were out of town when the road-building began on Monday).
It took until Friday afternoon, though, for the D8's to be shut down. I was the one who pointed out to county officials that their own final order for the subdivision requires a Major Construction Permit before construction of road improvements may commence.
Yet the newspaper story quotes Bill Loulay of North Santiam Paving:
Loulay said there was an agreement with Marion County to start work before getting the usual construction permit.
"We in good faith thought we were off and running," he said.
Well, we and our neighbors would like to know what Marion County official told Loulay it was OK to go ahead without a permit. We're suspicious this is why it took three days for the county to shut the illegal road construction down, when such should have happened right away.
Yesterday a neighbor told us a story about what happened when a Marion County inspector came out after her home had been built and her family was ready to move in. The inspector said, "You don't have your house number posted on the road."
He waited in their driveway while the woman rushed into town to buy some house numbers to put on their mailbox, or wherever. She wondered how Marion County could be a stickler on such a small thing, while being willing to let North Santiam Paving plow ahead with 60-foot wide subdivision roads without a permit.
Another oddity in the story is this statement from Loulay:
Last week's work moving dirt and leveling a road went on without the proper Marion County and Oregon Department of Environment Quality permits.
For developers, it was a case of miscommunication.
The DEQ erosion-control permit was issued Monday, more than a month after North Santiam Paving applied for it and several weeks after the agency said it would be mailed to the homeowner.
"It gets sent to the owner," said Bill Loulay of North Santiam Paving. "We assumed it got to the homeowner because we gave them about twice as long as they said it would take."
Bill, have you ever heard of something called a "telephone"? It's a cool invention. You can pick it up, push some buttons, and be able to talk with Greg Eide – who filed the DEQ 1200-C erosion control permit. Then you can say, "Greg, have you gotten the permit?"
Here's another funny thing. I know next to nothing about DEQ permits. North Santiam Paving must know a lot, because DEQ told me they've applied for the permits in the past. It took me about a minute to find the status of Greg Eide's 1200-C application online.
Did you ever think of checking to be sure the permit was approved before you started the road construction, Bill? Your equipment started moving dirt on September 17. The permit was approved September 24. That's five work days of illegal construction.
Not good for a construction company. And not good for a Measure 37 claimant. But such is to be expected with the "rush to become vested" that is occurring before Measure 49 goes into effect.
Of course, illegal construction work won't count toward vesting. But it sure does count toward making voters want to vote "Yes" on Measure 49 and stop the Measure 37 craziness.
Let's let Oregonians with Measure 37 claims have one to ten home sites. That's fair. But large subdivisions on groundwater limited farmland, especially those that begin building illegally? Not fair at all.