Letters to the Editor - Feb. 14, 2014
Easement doesn’t qualify
I recently took the opportunity to address Sen. Jeff Merkley at his town hall meeting in McMinnville. My comments were summarized in the News-Register, and I was then attacked in a letter to the editor claiming my comments were “strewn with paranoia and implied improprieties.”
I beg to differ. I’m not paranoid, but I feel compelled to restate my position here.
I do not believe the conservation easement established at the proposed Wallace Bridge project should be modified. The easement was established when all of us paid the full appraised value of the property to the landowner, which required only that the land be withheld from development and commodity production. The landowner keeps the property and many rights to personal enjoyment and use. It’s really quite a deal.
The only encumbrance on the landowner is that the land be maintained to provide ecological function and environmental services in perpetuity. That is, forever. It’s a good deal for the landowner but, ultimately, also a good deal for us taxpayers, since we can be assured of receiving the environmental services provided — forever.
Modifying an easement is extremely difficult. To my knowledge, there have been no easement modifications in Oregon and only a very few nationwide.
A compelling public need with no alternatives is the only type of modification request that can be considered under the program policy. The desire to modify an easement in order to develop a commercial enterprise does not come close.
If it did, the permanent easements the public has purchased for ecological function would be secure only until such time as someone decided a commercial opportunity existed at the site. This kind of reversal would eviscerate the program and the environment, and the public would lose an excellent conservation program.
Nonprofits shouldn’t be taxed
As a volunteer at the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum, I’ve been following the news articles about Evergreen.
The latest news about the Yamhill County tax assessor and the museum was very interesting. Since I retired, I also volunteer in Sherwood, where I live. I’ve been a board member for the Sherwood Foundation for the Arts (SFA) for the past four years or so and treasurer for the past three.
The SFA doesn’t have a lot of money, and what funds we do have are generated through ticket sales to our summer musical, booth fees for Altered Art Festival and fees to participate in Missoula Children’s Theatre, a children’s summer art camp.
We are a 501(c)(3), so we are not taxed. If we were taxed on our sales – akin to how the Yamhill County assessor wants to tax property supporting the Evergreen museum – it would put us out of business.
You might ask the operators of Gallery Theater in McMinnville what would happen if Yamhill County taxed their property. This is a really bad idea for all nonprofits.
Put landfill to sleep
Blissfully and determinably ignorant, two Yamhill County commissioners approved a zone change so farmable farmland could be converted to a non-farmable dump.
Planner Mike Brandt made a minimal presentation, citing “good cause” to either approve or deny the application. If approved, he recommended a condition for some type of green technology down the road.
There was no recognition of seismic, environmental, flood zone, safety, land use or social issues that have been raised. Near-unanimous concerns of the Willamette Valley Wineries Association were snuffed.
Apparently, Yamhill County officials feel that placing a landfill in a floodplain with seismic instability, worker safety problems and potential for future environmental damage have no place in discussions of zoning and land use. If they allowed that discussion, everyone would realize we have already created a major problem.
This time, expansion of the landfill will be “in your face.” The long axis of the addition will be 2,200 feet along Highway 18, with more opportunity to view it up close and smell it. Riverbend’s excavation needs for covering the landfill likely will extend to more land than approved for the footprint. The landfill’s exposure to flood waters of the South Yamhill River will increase 50 percent.
McMinnville City Council realizes we have a problem. Its formal letter to commissioners stated, “ … we had hoped to see a vote for denial of the zone change,” adding that they are “increasingly concerned that continued operation and growth of Riverbend Landfill are contrary to sustaining a high quality of life for the current and future citizens and children of McMinnville.”
It is time for other cities and organizations to write their own letters to the commissioners. Yamhill County needs to recognize the problems and move to reconsider so Riverbend Landfill can be put to sleep.
Yamhill County plows roads
I really want to say how impressed I was over the weekend with the snow plows. We live at the top of Bell Road in Yamhill County and were happy to see them.
When we drove down Bell Road on Sunday, we were shocked how Washington County had done no plowing at all.
We drove all over Sherwood, and nothing looked plowed. Then, my friend up in The Greens subdivision said the plows and tractors appeared on Sunday.
Thanks go to all those who worked over the weekend to keep our streets clear and safe.
Make Wall Street pay
People are still talking about, “It’s the economy, stupid!” Perhaps they should be talking about, “It’s the money, stupid!”
President Obama wants good-paying jobs for everyone, but he doesn’t want to put good money into the economy to pay for them. An increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour is ludicrous today. It should be $22.10 an hour.
The president needs to address the economy by hitting Wall Street. After all, it was Wall Street that destroyed our economy by pulling the biggest heist in the history of the world and snuffing out the middle class with its giant derivative casino in 2008. Remember Henry Paulson, standing on the world stage, hands shaking while holding a three-page request for $8 billion to save the crooks who brought this country to its knees? Guess what? He got it.
Well, we want it back now. It’s our money. Last month, I asked Sen. Merkley if there was any support for Congressman Peter DeFazio’s request to add a tax of 0.03 percent or .30 per $1,000 on Wall Street financial transactions. This very small amount would generate a little more than $350 billion over the next decade. Sen. Merkley said DeFazio’s request was too complicated for the Wall Street computer to handle.
Ridiculous. We should be in the streets with signs demanding a tax on Wall Street to create jobs to repair our infrastructure. Beverly King is right, “We have a lot at stake in our country today. We had better stand for something ... .” (News-Register, Jan. 17, Readers’ Forum).
On an unrelated topic, many thanks to Mayor Rick Olson for his support for the people of this community with his letter to the Yamhill County Board of Commissioners about the Riverbend Landfill.