The P.O. City Council Keeps Saying Yes

At the May 19 meeting, councilors voted 4 to 2 to direct city staff to draft an ordinance amending the Wastewater Facilities Plan to allow for a diversion of treated effluent that would be available to any entity presenting a valid application.

By now it is abundantly clear that support for providing effluent is entrenched. The same four councilors keep saying Yes, in spite of the fact that we know little about the golf course developer’s plans in the Urban Growth Area. We also know nothing about the effects of drilling a pipeline through the old landfill site and potentially through the plume of toxic chemicals making its way through the water table toward Garrison Lake.

Plus, in spite of the State Department of Land Conservation and Development’s advisory notice, Curry County has failed to schedule a hearing on alternatives to the use of effluent on the golf course. The Planning Director maintains that ERPD must first come to them with their proposal. This is farcical, because we have known for a long time about their effluent plans, which have never been part of the conditional use permit for building the golf course on land zoned Exclusive Farm Use (EFU). Why is the county not revisiting this increasingly deviant and controversial exception to land use law?

It is troubling that such a sweeping change to our Wastewater Facilities Plan, which was long in the making, could be so quickly made. It is also troubling that in spite of the broad language suggested in the proposal, this is yet another effort by ERPD to secure access to the valuable commodity.  Have we already passed the point of no return? Have we said Yes so often that we’re effectively barred from saying No in the future?

Recently there has been much activity around selling or otherwise disposing of county-owned land, thereby getting it onto the tax rolls or else under the ownership of public agencies or nonprofits. This is a good thing, generally. However, a few of these properties apparently serve the golf course juggernaut. Some officials at the county level are zealously pursuing this form of economic development well below the radar of the ordinary citizen. It looks like transparency, due diligence, and even common sense are in suspension. Is it individual self interest? Even if it is not, we could be entering into the devil’s own bargain in a desperate attempt at a better future for Curry County.