The Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals has denied Central Oregon Landwatch’s request to temporarily halt the city of Bend’s surface water improvement project.
Construction is slated to begin tomorrow on the controversial project. The city plans to lay a roughly 9.5-mile pipe between its surface water source at Bridge Creek, near Tumalo Creek falls, and a water storage facility west of town. The new 30-inch pipe replaces two smaller, aging pipes.
In the decision released today, LUBA determined that allowing the city to proceed with the construction of the pipe would not cause irreparable damage to Landwatch, according to a document that outlines the decision of the land use board.
LUBA notes that the even though trees must be removed and some wetlands in Tumalo Creek will be disturbed, the city has a plan to mitigate the effects of its construction and return to area to its natural state over time. Therefore, Landwatch cannot claim irreparable harm.
“Petitioner has not established that the trees and the wetlands that it seeks to protect are resources that, if destroyed or injured, cannot be practically restored,” according to the LUBA order outlining the board’s decision.
The land use board will likely rule in November on an appeal of the entire water project by Landwatch. If LUBA rules in Landwatch’s favor on that appeal, the city will likely have to halt construction and revisit its decision to approve the water project.
Tomorrow, the U.S. District Court in Eugene will hold a hearing on a separate request from Landwatch for an injunction, which would also halt the water project.
Landwatch filed a complaint in that federal court in late September that essentially appeals the decision of the U.S. Forest Service to grant the city of Bend a special use permit to construct the pipe, which runs across some Forest Service land.
Landwatch requested a temporary injunction to prevent the city from constructing the pipe until the court makes a decision on the Forest Service permit.
Check back here tomorrow for an update on that hearing.