Writing a Letter to the Editor
Writing a letter to local media is a powerful way to bring attention to this proposed Chevron and its associated risks. Below there are three letters to the editor that others have submitted.
Please use these as a starting point to craft your own message.
- Beaverton times - Our length limit is 300 words; submissions may be edited for length, grammar, libel and appropriate taste. Writers are limited to one letter per calendar month. Because of the volume of mail, not all letters can be printed. Letters must be signed with the writers full name. An address and daytime telephone number are needed for verification purposes; this information will not be published or released.
- Oregonian - Please include your full address and daytime phone number, for verification only. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.
- Willamette Weekly - Letters to the editor must include the author’s street address and phone number for verification. Letters must be 250 or fewer words.
- Patch Beaverton Daily - Patch can only accept a letter posted on a public URL like a public Facebook post or other public social media.
- Cedar Mill News
Land Use Updates
Fifty thousand gallons of petroleum stored in tanks underground is a liability. When those petroleum products are stored near ground water, public parks, or wetlands that liability can become a public disaster causing taxpayers to foot huge cleanup costs. This isn’t a hypothetical: Oregon DEQ’s 2021 report showed a 3% leak rate for underground storage tanks.
That is why municipalities across the country are updating their land use codes to ensure gas stations are placed apart from sensitive areas. For example, in Rocky Hill, Connecticut no gas station can be built within 1,500 feet of a public park or playground, school, hospital, church, theater, public library or building for public assembly. In Harper Woods, Michigan it is 500 feet from any location of public assembly. The list goes on and on.
And in Washington County a gas station is being proposed by Lake Oswego based developer Bob Barman which will store 52,000 gallons of petroleum less than 100 feet from the popular Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation Rock Creek Trail. And there is no land use code to stop this.
Gas station cleanup can take decades and cost hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars. According to an Oregon DEQ public records request an gas station abandoned by its owners in Yamhill, Oregon has cost taxpayers over $500,000 in cleanup over the last decade and the cleanup is incomplete.
All municipalities across Oregon need to start taking common sense action to protect taxpayers from the risks of gas station leaks.
All of the referenced data is available at postpump.org.
Gas stations store tens of thousands of gallons of fuel in underground storage tanks. And these tanks regularly spill and leak. According to the Oregon DEQ’s annual report between Oct. 2020 and Sept 3% of the 1,800 regulated tanks leaked! And it isn’t just the tanks that leak: the pipes, dispensers, and spills on delivery cause leaks too.
Unfortunately, there are no protections in Washington County’s Land Use and Zoning code to ensure that these leaks happen far away from sensitive areas or ground water.
And why does this all matter now? Well there is a proposed Chevron station at the corner of 185th and West Union in the growing Bethany area of unincorporated Washington County. And the site plan places the storage tanks within 80 ft of the wetlands of the Rock Creek Greenway that also feed into the beloved recreation areas of Bethany Lake. We don’t need a gas station at this location and the County must update their zoning to better protect sensitive sites like wetlands, streams, rivers, flood plains, schools, and parks.
To see the application docs and other perspectives on this see https://nabgas.com.
Every level of government including County, State, and Federal is developing plans to cut gasoline consumption for passenger vehicles. Further, citizens are taking action too: Oregon DMV records show the Bethany area of Washington County (97229/97006) registered 3,134 electric vehicles up to 2019. That is a significant 3% of all vehicle registrations in that area are now electric! For comparison, Oregon as a whole has an electric vehicle registration rate of about 1%.
But, despite these public policy and market forces we are letting gas/service station operators install new stations with very few zoning restrictions. What happens when these gas stations go out of business and the land needs to be cleaned up?
Well, chances are tax payers will cover part of the bill! The federal government has the EPA Brownfield grants to cleanup old stations and the Oregon DEQ has as Prospective Purchaser Agreement program to foot some of the bill too. But, you know what I want to see? County and City zoning proactively choosing low risk areas to put their businesses and tanks so we don’t pay for it later.
A particularly egregious example of this lack of policy is a proposed Chevron station at the corner of 185th and West Union in the growing Bethany area of unincorporated Washington County. The small triangular property is adjacent to the wetlands of the Rock Creek Greenway that also feed into recreation areas of Bethany Lake where people fish and water fowl regularly swim. As they say water and oil shouldn’t mix.
To learn more about this Chevron see https://nabgas.com.
Who loves land use zoning? Well, it is tough to love. But, it does have a purpose. Or at least it should.
There is a Chevron station proposed at 185th and West Union north of Highway 26 in Washington County. And the applicant is asking the County for a variance to reduce setback requirements because “a smaller building footprint would significantly impact the financial feasibility of the project”. I think the variance should be denied because the fuel station is simply too big for the zoning it resides in.
The neighborhood commercial zoning codes for the area says its purpose is to “provide for the shopping and service needs of the immediate urban neighborhood”. And the County code puts limits on the size of grocery stores, banks, professional offices, and more to ensure that facilities aren’t oversized for the stated zoning purpose.
Inexplicably however, there are no limits on the size of a fuel/gas/service station in these Neighborhood Commercial zones. And so this developer is proposing a Chevron station in this “Neighborhood Commercial” zoning that is only two pumps smaller than his Woodburn Chevron which had the #2 gasoline sales by volume in the entire Pacific Northwest and sold 3.5 million gallons of fuel in 2019.
Washington County code should put limits on the size of service stations and deny this variance. Otherwise the zoning should just state no purpose at all.
If you want to learn more visit https://nabgas.com.