Posted by: atowhee | January 11, 2022

SALEM: THE STRUGGLE TO SAVE MEYER FARM FROM PAVEMENT AND DEFORESTATION.

Geoffrey James’ take on the Meyer Farm hearing last night. James is one of the leaders of the neighborhood opposition to the development plan as submitted. Developer proposing 139 tract homes on around thirty acres of farm land and oak/doug-fir forest in southeast Salem:

The Hearing before the [Salem] City Council was Monday Jan 10.
A very long meeting.
20 people testified in opposition.*
Nobody testifying, except the applicant’s people, were supportive of the subdivision.
It all came down to Trees.
Council were impressed with the James Santana report that graphically showed how ALL the significant trees can be saved by a re-design or a better layout to miss the trees.
Council obviously had not studied all the reports.
They were not turned on by traffic concerns.
They were interested in the status of the family efforts in circuit court. [Family split over selling and developing the farm–it’s own legal battle now on court.]
The City Attorney told them the court appointed trustee has legal right to file the application.
The hearing was ended.
The written record is extended to 5 p.m. Feb 14.
So we have a month to submit more arguments.
Council have specifically asked for the Santana Report (which was magnificent).
City is sending the City Forester out to look at significant trees and report back.
Council probably will DENY this application, as presented, but will probably require a re-submission of the application, and a redesign to miss the significant trees, plus a re-submission of tree tables and data.
Back to the Drawing Board!
That may be a future re-submission by the applicant, with an “improved” design layout.
SO … we can discuss what powerful reports we should each send to the Council.
But we realize the councilors are busy people and do not read all the fine detail, just the bottom line.
So executive summaries are important.
KISS Principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid.
To summarize last night’s meeting: The hearing is now closed. The record is open until 5:00 pm on February 14th. We can still send powerful recommendations for denial.

*I testfied. Here are my words to the council:
“I’m a Salem resident.  I will speak specifically about the forest that is part of this Meyer property.  Two hundred years ago the Native Americans in the Willamette Valley managed the oak forests for perpetuity—the forest provided food, wood and shelter for animals the people depended on.  Since farming invaded the valley the oak forest has been reduced to 1% of what it was before 1820.

“Oaks are known for providing rich habitat for many animals and smaller plants.  Squirrels, bluebirds, Acorn Woodpeckers, White-breasted Nuthatches depend on oaks.  From crows and wild turkeys to voles, the acorns are a prized meal.  Mistletoe thrives in an oak forest and its leathery berries last into winter “ourishing thrushes, bluebirds and other berry eaters in the coldest time of the year.

“Oaks can be drought resistant and live for centuries.  Some of the oaks on this Meyers property are already older than any person involved in this meeting.  This is a precious, regenerating forest well on its way to maturity.

“At this time in history when so many species are threatened with extinction and the climate is getting more extreme, hardy oaks should be valued for being alive.  At a time when carbon in the atmosphere endangers man, birds and plants alike, a forest can be a natural way to remove carbon from the air.  Many climate scientists are promoting  tree planting as a way to help reduce greenhouse gases and perhaps soften climate change.

“To remove that forest for construction is to say, ‘personal profit today, to hell with the planet tomorrow.’  I spend time at Fairview Wetlands.  That industrial park is rife with thousands of square feet of pavement and buildings that are empty and unused.  Why build more when we cannot use all that we already have?  Would it not make more sense to replace or repurpose there rather than cover many more acres with pavement, sidewalks, and  buildings?  I would hope a majority of this council is able to understand the environment your grandchildren will struggle with is far more important than somebody’s short-term private financial gain.”

Here are two email addresses where you can submit comments:
citycouncil@cityofsalem.net
recorder@cityofsalem.net


Responses

  1. I know Molly Meier from our horse 4-H days in the late 1960’s when she had a grey horse named Shannon. I also have done numerous Christmas bird counts on her property and noted the species in the old oak groves. These oaks must be preserved! I will plan to write a short paragraph describing the oaks and their significance.


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