Despite some public comment against document, commission approves unanimously

During a public hearing at the Dec. 5 Planning Commission meeting, commissioners approved the Wastewater Treatment Master Plan. This happened despite a small group of the public expressing their opposition to the plan.

Prior to the meeting, city officials ensured that all their ducks were in a row. They had studied and worked on the plan before sending it to DEQ for approval. That government entity gave it the go-ahead for adoption, meaning that it meets city and state standards.

There are a number of reasons this document is necessary, according to the city.

"We have to follow state rules and standards through the Master Plan," said Gerald Fisher, Molalla's director of Public Works. "Growth and change is going to happen. If we manage growth and if infrastructure is in place to accommodate those changes and we grow from a little under 10,000 population to 16,000 we will be able to accommodate the needed changes.

"The community can't stop change," Fisher continued. "I think what's going on has to do with change. People have lived here for a number of years and don't want the changes that comes with growth. You can't stop change, you just have to manage it."

He added that it seemed the people who spoke during the public hearing weren't from Molalla, but from areas surrounding Molalla.

"They didn't have their facts straight," Fisher said. "It appeared they hadn't read or didn't understand the Master Plan's executive study in the first 22 pages of the plan that's on the website."

He emphatically stated the city doesn't throw raw sewage in the Molalla River, but meets DEQ's adoption of the plan for approval.

"As our flows increase with community growth over the next 20 years, so will our volume of treated effluent that is discharged to land application sites in the summer and to the river in the winter as our NPDES permit," Fisher said. The plan comes up again for the City Council and another public hearing on Dec. 12.

Carol Rosen
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