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Oregon officials hear arguments regarding water plant expansion

A planned extension to a water treatment plant has been met with mixed reactions in a Minnesota town, which recently held its third planning commission meeting devoted to discussing the project in two weeks. Over 50 people spoke at the West Linn Planning Commission regarding applications by nearby towns Lake Oswego and Tigard to expand their plant and build a new pipeline that would run underneath several parts of West Linn. The Planning Commissioned delayed a vote on the project in May 2012, with the land use dispute continuing ever since.

Critics of the project raised concerns that the expansion could produce unwanted effects on property values, traffic and general safety. Individuals living near where the proposed construction would take place referred to the project as "an environmental killer" and "a business nightmare." One woman recalled a similar but ultimately unsuccessful protest in 1967 started to stop the construction of the original treatment plant. "We kind of let it go for a while because when they did build the plant, we must admit, they have been good neighbors," she said. "But what's being asked now is a whole other ball game. This is going to be disruption."

An attorney representing Lake Oswego and Tigard says that the emotional protests against the project have obscured the effort its planners have taken to minimize any negative impact the expansion could have on the surrounding areas. Lake Oswego and Tigard's water partnership has created a revised project plan aimed at lowering noise pollution, making the plant more visually appealing and taking other steps to appease nearby residents.

Furthermore, project leaders claim that the construction would prevent West Linn from having to make number of needed improvements to its existing water system, which could save the city millions of dollars. They also noted that the plant would be able to treat about 38 million gallons of river water each day, compared to its current capacity of 16 million gallons.

Source: Oregon Live, "Dispute over Lake Oswego water treatment plant, pipeline in West Linn continues," Rachel Stark, Oct. 26, 2012

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