Junction City Residents Debate Wetlands

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JUNCTION CITY, Ore. — Some Junction City residents are upset that some of their property is now being deemed potential wetlands.

The city says taking inventory of its wetlands is required by a state statute and its not taking over anyone’s property.

Still, some residents are worried that what they called part of their backyard is now a potential wetland.

Russell Gravillel’s backyard butts up against what he’s always considered to be a drainage ditch, but to his surprise it’s now being considered wetlands.

“I am not happy with the decisions that the city staff has been pushing on the city council,” Gravillel said.

As part of the urban growth boundary expansion, basically a 20-year city plan, state statute says wetlands must be identified in places for economic development.

The problem is some residents think they will be losing control of their property now that more wetlands are labeled, and they packed Thursday’s city council meeting to let council know.

“Of course lawyers are getting involved. It’s not necessarily a good situation,” Gravillel said.

“The city isn’t taking any property. It’s merely following the steps guided by state statutes for us to make sure we are doing our part as the local agency to protect wetlands,” said Kevin Watson, Junction City Administrator.

The city says homeowners can still have their fences, sheds, even gardens in the same places. The only thing that would change would be future development on these spots.

“Right now this is part of my property and can be considered in that total drainable area. If that area decreases because part is considered wetlands, my permit to put an expansion on my house could be denied, thereby lowering the value of the property on the house,” Gravillel said.

Bottom line, the wetland label is here to stay. How it’s applied is still up in the air. The city is still taking written public comment on the issue, and the next meeting and possible vote is September 18.

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