The guest speaker this month was Stacy Ludington from the Clackamas County Office of Sustainability. A core part of her job is to educate people on how to properly recycle, as well as hosting workshops on how to clean with less toxic chemicals by making your own “green” cleaners.
When the Chinese government informed the U.S. and Europe last year that it would no longer accept recyclables due to contamination, it led to major shifts in what counties would accept at the curb. Oregon is adapting by finding new local markets for recyclables, but in the meantime the change means more is thrown out. The County is also asking privately owned sorting facilities to update their machinery, but it’s expensive.
Stacy shared a recycle guide flyer (found at clackamas.us/recycling) and discussed the main rules for mixed recycling and glass. She emphasized that the recycle symbol is meaningless when it comes to recycling — the symbol and number are indicators of the type of plastic, not whether it is recyclable.
Surprises on what cannot be recycled include to-go containers, also called clamshells, which is so thin it breaks apart and the machines mistake it as paper; coffee cups or frozen food boxes, which are lined with plastic; and tin can lids or plastic containers under six ounces – such as medicine containers or small yogurt containers, as they are too small.
Lesser known recyclable items include five gallon buckets, and thick-layered cartons that items like broth, soy milk, soup, etc. come in, as the layers allow machines to take the useable parts and discard the rest. Labels do not need to be removed from tin cans, as they get burned off in the smelter. Stacy suggests putting small bits of paper into a larger paper bag, otherwise the machines may discard them, and that tape does not need to be removed from cardboard boxes.
Plastic bags including grocery bags or any “stretchy” bag can be recycled, such as bread bags, water bottle bag wrappers, paper towel wrappers, and more (whether or not it has the recycle symbol per above). Also, the bottle deposit was raised to ten cents and includes more bottle types. Recycle locations can be found at OregonMetro.gov/FindaRecycler.
Stacy shared a list of items that do not belong in garbage, such as medical sharps, electronics, batteries and other hazardous waste, and more. A resident asked if and how solar panels could be recycled, which the County will follow up on. Another asked whether we would see a styrofoam or plastic bag ban similar to Portland, and Stacy said she had not heard of that extending to unincorporated Clackamas County at this time.
The agenda had two land use applications including the request for a forest template test to establish a single family residence on Killdeer Road. The board explained that this occurs when a property is zoned as Timber. A 160 acre square centered over the property is used to determine the number of parcels it touches, as well as dwellings on those parcels. It’s very “black and white,” the board said, and “no set of inputs is going to make a difference” on whether one can proceed with a template test. Residents voted 34 in favor of “no comment at this time” and two abstained.
The second land use application was by Mountain Meadow Solar who is requesting photovoltaic a solar power generation facility (passive solar panels) to be added on 10 acres on Killdeer Road. Almost 40 neighbors from the area around Mountain Meadow, Yeoman, and Killdeer roads were present at the meeting in opposition to the application. The board spoke with the land owner and he chose not to attend, and the business owners could not attend due to travel.
The board had received emails and letters from many residents in opposition, which will be sent in entirety to the hearings officer along with a letter from the Hamlet. The board stated that they are not here to approve or support the application, but to serve as a conduit to the County while providing residents helpful information for the hearings and how to best prepare.
The board emphasized that written comments received by the County planning staff by October 8 will be considered in the recommendation to the hearings officer on October 18. The contact is Clay Glasgow at email@example.com. It’s also crucial to organize as a group and present in a united way at the public hearing. The typical order of presentation is: applicant, staff, anyone in favor, anyone opposed. It’s an informal, face-to-face discussion in which the hearings officer is reviewing the code and what makes sense for this particular application.
One resident said Lane and Yamhill counties have put a moratorium on solar development. One resident had reviewed 20 previous applications for solar developments in Clackamas County and all were approved. The important thing to address is the conditional use. The group discussed the Timber District Ordinance and what is allowable with regard to solar, as well as several possible angles to pursue with the hearings officer related to zoning, erosion, and road use and safety in the event of an emergency, among others.
Residents expressed other downsides of a solar farm in a residential neighborhood including a 10-20% reduction in property values, a cyclone fence with barbed wire and high voltage signs being a safety hazard to wildlife and neighborhood children, a water runoff issue that would compound existing drainage issues and could trigger nearby landslide areas, the potential for increased pesticide use which would go into the well water, current issues with water pressure that may be intensified by a commercial facility, the potential for school bus stop changes.
A resident who is a mortgage lender suggested it would be more difficult to get a loan next to a solar facility. One suggested the nearest power station was 3.3 miles away, which would require an upgrade to power lines to export power. A suggestion was made to put the solar farm on land that is not in agricultural or timber production, such as an old landfill site or similar.
A resident had visited another solar development by the same business owner in Colton, saying it was “really ugly” and that the neighbors have cited runoff issues and are afraid of pesticides in the pond. They also said the builder promised to add trees or shrubs to beautify the perimeter but nothing had been done. If this one goes through, he said, residents should ask the builder to create a decommission fund as there’s no promise they will remove it after the 30-year agreement expires.
A resident suggested contacting 1000 Friends of Oregon who has been working with the State and Oregon counties for years on maintaining the agricultural land base while balancing the need for renewable energy sources. The board again emphasized the importance of showing up in person at the meeting with a unified front. Residents voted to oppose the application with 36 in favor, zero opposed and two abstaining. The board voted four in favor, one opposed, and two abstaining.
The board reminded everyone that Hamlet elections are happening at the October meeting. Bill Merchant, Christine Kosinski, Tammy Stevens are running for re-election and there will be one open board seat which will be appointed by the new board. For old business, the Hamlet is asking people to join the volunteer list for when project help is needed. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added.
The County is instituting a new $30 vehicle registration fee to pay for road maintenance with 40% of taxes collected going to cities and 60% going to the county. They spoke with cities, but none of the CPOs or Hamlets so the County is working fast to rectify that through a Community Leaders meeting. Of the 60% going to the County, the Hamlet board and other community leaders are doing what they can to ensure some monies come to rural areas. Regarding the tax itself, a resident asked if lightly used farm vehicles are taxed the same as heavy use. The County understands that is not fair and the board is continuing that discussion, as well as on Veteran’s vehicles.
The Willamette Falls Legacy Project is starting to seek help. If you’re interested, get in touch with the Hamlet board. If you have a PO Box, you can now use the Street Addressing feature which allows you to have a “street address” rather than a PO Box, which is useful for shipping packages. The Hamlet website at beavercreek.org is currently using Meetup.com for the back-end, which is limiting. Volunteers will be updating it to make it more useable and useful to the community. A resident has also volunteered to create a “little free library” at Korner Park where residents can take a book and leave a book. It will also house the Beavercreek Bulletin.
The board recently met with the Clackamas River Water (CRW), our regional water service provider, to get an update on water issues in our area after two wells went dry this summer near Yeoman Road. One of them, whose well is 265 feet deep, said they contacted 25 well companies who all quoted a three to six month wait. Just one in St. Paul was able to come out and take a look. In the interim, they got cisterns and water from the fire station to care for themselves, horses, and chickens. Another resident in proximity of Yeoman said they recently got annexed into CRW, which took a year.
Previous meetings have discussed the potential for increased development by Oregon City putting a strain on Beavercreek’s water supply. The good news is that CRW has a certified water right that can’t be revoked. The bad news is that Oregon City, West Linn, Lake Oswego and others have conditional use rights, which can be revoked at any time. If the water levels get too low – and they’re getting lower every year – then rationing could be implemented similar to what was done in California in recent years. Residents are encouraged to attend public CRW meetings to learn and share.
The Beavercreek Elementary School pickup and dropoff was changed this year after public and parent meetings deemed it unsafe, however, new safety issues have arisen. Traffic is backing up down the busy Beavercreek road, which has led to near-accidents. The groups are meeting again soon to discuss new options. The October Hamlet meeting is a Town Hall with guest speaker Michelle Amend, Clackamas County Code Enforcement Department, and attended by Katie Wilson, Liaison, Clackamas County Elections.
The Hamlet of Beavercreek is here to protect and preserve the rural culture of the area, and serves to help all residents. Monthly meetings are the best place to share feedback and learn how to get involved. Join us at 7:00 p.m. the third Wednesday of each month at the Beavercreek Grange.