Monday, October 19, 2020

Yes Philomath, It's About the Water...Vote Informed


Fact, not Agenda…How water availability and budget shortfalls have created the perfect storm.

Since the early 1990s, Philomath residents, Planning Commissioners and Chamber of Commerce members were sounding the warnings on limited water resources for Philomath, and urging for sustainable and managed growth to preserve water for the future residents of Philomath….whether by neglect or intent, our City leaders have failed to take heed, continuing to approve tremendous levels of development while limiting budget planning for needed water infrastructure.

Fast forward to 2018, when the City of Philomath formally adopted the updated Water System Master Plan.  Already countless development proposals and new development had been approved over the years, including the massive BLVD apartment complex, with no water criteria development guidelines established in the Municipal Code to consider water availability and infrastructure to support these developments pouring into Philomath.

The most recent and most sizable development proposals, the Beelart Annexation on No. 12th Street and the Lepman Master Planned Development were met with testimony after testimony before the City Council, pleading with them to recognize the peril of the water crisis in Philomath from the impacts of global climate change, overuse of the Mary’ River, high water usage developments and expected increased usage of Corvallis’ upstream water rights.

Already experiencing a trend in water shortages, according to the Regional Water Master at the 2019 Water Forum, water usage in Philomath was set to be restricted by the OWRD in 2015.  Water flows were too diminished in Mary’s River to provide adequate flows to senior water users and Philomath was on the chopping block. A last-minute rain event, saved the day. This was at approximately 4500 residents and before almost 1000 new water users had been approved by the City Council for development.

Review of Philomath’s Water System Master Plan, based on data preceeding 2018, shows that with limited water flows in the Mary’s River during our driest months of August and September, and inadequate fire suppression infrastructures,  there may not be even enough water available for firefighting capacity in the case of a large fire event like those experienced recently by our neighboring communities.

Remarkably, City of Philomath staff and the City Council of past and present has been made aware of our limited water resources, by experts and reports, and yet the public outcry about the water crisis goes unanswered, while development planning pushes on.

Philomath’s water availability emergency has only been magnified by the unsurmountable cost burden of securing future water for all residents in Philomath. With the increasing costs for the new Water Treatment Plant and the needed upgrades for redundancies of fire protections, the price tag has now exceeded a whopping $16 million.   These costs will  be leveraged against the paying water users in Philomath, although disproportionately, as the large apartment complexes and the recently approved RV Park developments will pay reduced water rates, limiting their obligation to pay their fair share for these upgrades, and increasing the cost burden to Philomath residents.

Consider these statements from Philomath’s officially adopted 2018 Water System Master Plan, written by experts and contracted by the City of Philomath (page references included): 

"During the summer months, the Mary’s River is over-appropriated and no new water rights are likely to be available.  Ground water resources are similarly limited and if it is not impossible to get new rights now, it eventually will be." (P. 6-2)

"the maximum day demand will exceed the sum of the bottom three water rights by about 2025." 

…the City may need to curtail water usage during dry weather periods in the coming years." (p.6-2 WSMP)

"The frequency of curtailment is expected to increase, over the years as population and water usage increase." (p. 6-2 WSMP)

"Regarding Neabeack Hill Fire Pump Station; There is no back-up power system.  Therefore, it would not be possible to meet fire demands in the event of a power failure." (p. 4-13 WSMP)

"Some portions of the system do not have the capacity to deliver required fire flows while maintaining the obligatory 20psi residual pressure at all service connections." (P. 4-11)

"Most of the year there is sufficient water in the Mary’s River to supply all of the City’s current Water Demands.  However, river flows in the late summer during dry years can become very low."  There are many claims for river water for irrigation and other uses.  Together these claims are GREATER THAN THE AVAILABLE WATER DURING SOME LOW FLOW PERIODS.  (P. 4-5)

The Philomath Fire District recently reached out about recently published concerns regarding water, and they have affirmed that current fire hydrant pressures meet compliance with State requirements.  However, this is not a statement to the Fire Districts compliance at the hydrants, this is about the state of the City regarding known deficiencies in water infrastructure and the funding needed to correct these deficiencies.  The water experts in this case, Westech Engineering, have stated their position, and bolstering fire protections are a necessity in order to increase protection to our city.  These facts have remained undisputed by the City and by the state courts.

It’s time for change Philomath, before we turn on our water faucets and nothing comes out.

When you cast your vote for City Council, look closely at the record of your past and present Philomath leaders. Unprecedented development pressures amidst documented water shortages have put the future of Philomath at risk.  With Philomath already pushing close to 5500 residents, are water curtailments and restrictions just around the corner?…read it for yourself…the experts have made their case.

Fact Checkers?  Look here: City of Philomath Water System Master Plan

(Note: If this link has become inactive, request location of this public document from the City)

Monday, October 5, 2020





* * *
Philomath and the status quo have not worked !

STATUS QUO with the incumbents


NEWCOMERS seeking office

INCUMBENTS seeking office and appear quite satisfied with the status quo: 
City Councilors: Ruth Causey, Matt Lehman, David Low, Matthew Thomas.
Mayor Candidate: Doug Edmonds.

NEWCOMERS seeking office and appear not satisfied with the status quo: 
City Councilor Candidates:  Jessica Andrade, Catherine Biscoe, Lawrence E. Johnson,
Jason Richards, Thomas Sullivan.
Mayor Candidate:  Chas Jones (current City Councilor)

What is the Status Quo?  Let’s examine the record of the past and current City Council

A decades long system that avoids the recognition of Goal 1 required Citizens Advisory Panel

A belief that there is enough water for current and planned development

Allowing for fire hydrants to have less than State mandated minimum water pressure for fire suppression at locations within the Cit

Approving excess housing development with an insufficient development process

Failing to allocate budget reserves to fund an estimated $14 million Water Treatment Plant 

which will now be levied against the taxpayers of Philomath

Approving development applications that will increase housing by almost 600 new homes and apartments

Approving a 167-space RV park for transient RVs who will probably not be residents, but will put immense pressure on a limited road, water and wastewater City infrastructure

Increasing the budget and salary spending year after year without increasing savings sufficiently for needed infrastructure costs

Continuing to increase water and sewer rates, putting Philomath in the top range of Benton County utility rates

Continuing to increase tax rates which keep Philomath at the highest tax rate of any comparable Oregon City, and at the highest rates in Benton County

Maintaining a closed-door policy on Citizen involvement and participation through exclusionary committees, restrictive meeting access and non-transparent governance practices.

Now Consider the priorities of the Newcomer, who like many Philomath residents are unhappy with the status quo and are advocating for change

Recognize the importance of citizen input as allowed by Oregon’s Goal 1

Believe in establishing an active Citizen’s Advisory Committee consisting of a representative sample of City residents, and households

Include in every development criteria the City’s stated and established water limitations

Review the budget with an eye to eliminating waste and excess spending

Ensure that adequate time for citizen input is established for any proposed changes and developments by holding two separate readings through proper procedure

Create an office of Citizen Ombudsperson who has real authority to advocate for City residents

Proceed methodically

Treat every dollar of taxpayer revenue with dignity and respectfully spend only as needed

Listen to the City residents

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

REMEMBER, every vote counts more now than at any time in the past.  Philomath and the status quo have not worked!



Below is copy of the notice on the City website about tonight's Hearing on forming a Reimbursement District to force residents who "benefit" from the improved infrastructure to pay their fair share in providing infrastructure to BLVD apartments. 

Page 4, 6, 8 and 9 of the agenda packet show the expected costs to up to 18 additional taxlots to offset the costs of BLVD's development. (The 40-pg agenda packet is linked to the page for review)

Please review this notice and the portion of the packet that shows the costs levied against up to 18 properties.  Share any portion as necessary. 


The Philomath City Council will hold a public hearing on Monday, October 5, 2020, at 7:00 p.m. via Zoom video-conference. The purpose of this hearing is to receive public comment regarding the request to form a Reimbursement District filed by Mountain West Corporation (The Boulevard Apartments). The Planning Official’s Report is provided below. The full report including appendices is also on file and available for review in the office of the City Recorder by calling (541) 929-6148 or emailing

The city of Philomath requires developers to construct and install water, sanitary sewer, storm sewer, and street improvements necessary to serve proposed developments. Often these street, water, sewer and storm sewer improvements, particularly those constructed off-site, can and will benefit other property owners when they develop their property. Therefore, these improvements represent a benefit to those property owners.

The purpose of establishing a reimbursement district is to provide a mechanism where owners of property which benefits from the construction of public improvements by another property owner will share in the cost of those improvements by payment of a reimbursement charge at the time the benefited property is developed and/or the improvements are utilized.

Owners of property which would be subject to a reimbursement charge may review the report and comment at the public hearing prior to the city establishing a reimbursement district.

Due to Oregon Governor Brown’s Executive Order 20-12 requiring social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this public hearing will be held via Zoom video-conference. Limited capacity will be available at Philomath City Hall Council Chambers, 980 Applegate Street, Philomath, Oregon.

Opportunities to Comment: The following options are available for the public to provide comment during the public hearing:

1) Sign up to speak by contacting the City Recorder at or by calling 541-929-6148 no later than 4:00 p.m. on the day of the meeting.

2) Submit written comments by email to the City Recorder at no later than 12:00 p.m. the day of the meeting.

3) Submit written comments in the City Hall parking lot drop box no later than 12:00 p.m. the day of the meeting.

4) Mail written comments to PO Box 400, Philomath, OR 97370 3-4 days prior to the day of the meeting.

From the City Website: City of Philomath Public Hearing Announcement   


Sunday, September 20, 2020

Power of 100 People Who Care....Thank You

 In January, the Power of 100 People Who Care in Corvallis chose to support the Philomath Community Gleaner Program with a donation of $6900 and an additional $200 after the publication of the news article...$7100 of funds to the Gleaner Program to support purchases of totes for operations, packaging to handle bulk bag products like flour, rice, sugar and other desirable foods, and much needed compensation to offset mileage expense for members' personal vehicle use for program costs. This funding was especially important to purchase emergency equipment and food to adapt program operations in response to COVID19 shut downs and protocols.

Thank you so very much to the Power of 100 People Who Care in Corvallis for giving us this boost.  It helped us continue our important program of feeding need families successfully during Covid-19 !

Please consider joining the Power of 100 People Who Care in Corvallis at their October meeting when they decide who the next non-profit recipient will be.   It's a great way to make a huge splash into local non-profits.

Catherine Biscoe
Program Manager
Philomath Community Gleaners

Monday, November 18, 2019

100-Year Water Vision Technical Workshop

November 14, 2019, Willamette University hosted the  100-Year Water Vision Technical Workshop in Salem as presented by the Oregon State Watershed Enhancement Board. The committee leading this project is tasked with reaching out statewide to evaluate water concerns for all citizens in the State of Oregon.  The workshop was filled attendees of City and State leaders, Indian Nation representatives, numerous agencies throughout the state that deal with water, conservation, health and environmentalism and a wide cross section of experts in water related professions as well as citizens who share interest in water concerns.

Topics of discussion were on water quality, availability,  affordability, environment, future trends including dramatic population increases and funding.  The workshop was extensive and the results of the collaboration will be presented to the Governor as well as brought back to the participants with the intent that a 100 Year plan will begin to develop concerning Oregon's water.

More information can be found at Oregon's Water Vision webpage:

Help  refine the goals and problem statements of Oregon’s 100-Year Water Vision by filling out this survey.

Keep informed by subscribing to the Oregon Water Vision email update list at the end of this survey!

Friday, October 11, 2019

City of Philomath and the "Chamber of Collusion"

Ex parte contacts, sketchy procedure and suspect allies.

As Philomath staggers under the onslaught of recent new developments and annexations, the latest
proposed development in town, the Lepman Master Planned Development has come under close
scrutiny by many local residents, business owners and community stakeholders.

After months of questionable Land Use procedure and public involvement practices between City
Officials and Philomath residents, several highly improper events took place at the Philomath Chamber of Commerce September luncheon.

In a room filled with local business owners, non-profit representatives, community leaders and City
officials, developer Scott Lepman presented his proposal for the already denied Master Planned
Development of 39 acres on the North side of Philomath. Beautiful full color 11x17, double-sided flyers, touting the benefits to Philomath of the RV Park, Self-Storage and Industrial Flex Space, were placed at each table. Key phrases such as “tourism, higher profits and honoring rural lifestyles” jumped off the pages.

Just weeks prior, on August 26 th , the Philomath Planning Commission had denied Lepman’s Master
Planned Development application. That denial was based on Development Criteria that was not met as defined by State Law and the Philomath Comprehensive Plan. The denial cited inadequate job
development and the risk of the RV park becoming substandard housing, which has happened at The
Blue Ox of Albany, another Lepman owned RV Park.

Without opportunity for dozens of Chamber Members to hear opposing presentations of the proposal
and the ability to consider 1000+ pages of the application, including dozens of testimonies in opposition, Mr. Lepman presented his plan as if approved.

Shockingly, after the luncheon, Philomath’s Mayor, City Manager and the developer, Scott Lepman
engaged in lengthy conversation, raising concerns of ex parte contact. Just days later, confirming those concerns, a letter from the President of the Chamber of Commerce “on behalf of the Board” was filed.  Clearly a conflict of interest, the Chamber of Commerce Director, is the wife of the mayor and a family member of a prominent builder, with ties to other developers, like Scott Lepman. Allowing a heavily biased presentation of the development proposal to the Chamber of Commerce membership after it was denied by the Planning Commission is procedurally incorrect and unethical.

A denied Land Use proposal, under appeal, has no business being presented one-sidedly before the
Chamber Members as an approved development proposal. More importantly, how does a letter
representing the Chamber Board and subsequently, the 95+ members of the Philomath Chamber of
Commerce get submitted on behalf of the developer? Especially considering Philomath’s Chamber of
Commerce has many members who have taken a public stand against this development. Additionally,
The Chamber of Commerce has had no official record of involvement in this proposal until after the

Regulation of Land Use Decision is outlined extensively in the Oregon Constitution, the Oregon Revised Statutes, the DLCD, and Philomath’s Municipal Code. It is outlined extensively because it is the law. Philomath citizens should expect nothing less than compliance, transparency and honesty when it comes to the development of Philomath.

As the proposal for the Lepman Master Planned Development comes again before City Officials on
October 15th, it is vital that Philomath citizens rally against this development that will bring higher taxes, substandard housing, minimal jobs and substantial pressure on our limited water resources. We must recognize that the Lepman Master Planned Development will take more from our community than it will contribute, before it is too late.

Submitted by Grow Philomath Sensibly,
For more information:
Sandy Heath, Chair
Jeff Lamb, Co-Chair
Catherine Biscoe, Secretary
Lawrence Johnson, Treasurer

Note: Column Submitted as an “As We See It” Column for the Corvallis Gazette Times
October 4, 2019

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Rebuttal to PhilomathExpress Letter to Editor from City Councilor

The letter to Editor written by councilor Matthew Thomas on July 17th is, to put it frankly, libelous to four women—Terry Weiss, Marion Dark, the budget committee woman, and me.  I spoke with the woman from the budget committee the story was about, and she tells me that Matthew Thomas was not present the whole time when Chris Workman had spoken with her that evening.  Also, even while he was there he admits that he was not focused on the conversation between Workman and the woman if he’s talking to her husband on the sideline there.

However the woman’s teenage daughter was there and did witness what happened and can substantiate the fact that Chris Workman did say, and do, what the woman, Terry Weiss, and Marion Dark have all said.  The woman testified on June 24th  at the City Council meeting that her daughter had been traumatized during the event, too.  She also said that she wrote a letter to Mayor Niemann about the event.  So when Matthew Thomas says "That didn't happen" he was effectively calling Terry Weiss and the rest of us lliars.  Also, he wasn't even at the June 10th city meeting, yet he is making comments about it as if he were. 

I wrote my last letter to the editor out of concern for how people were being treated in our town by our City hall, in support of ex-councilor Terry Weiss, and for the people who live here in Philomath.   I also wrote it to call attention to Councilor Thomas’s voting history.  Also, I wanted to set the record straight since I may have helped people vote for him last November.  Sorry about that.

Ann Buell