Fact Checker on the Assertions of Certain Clackamas County Commissioners regarding employment lands and the Urban/Rural reserves process, relative to a contemplated action on the Remand they received from the Court of Appeals regarding Stafford and French Prairie.

Taken from transcript of the Clackamas County Board of County Commissioners “Policy Session/Planning Meeting on “Employment Land Needs Decision” held at 10:00 AM on Monday, August 17, 2015 – a lengthy Work Session around the subject of the shortage of adequate employment lands (based on a study conducted by a consultant hired by Clackamas County), and the options to address the issue.

Assertions are specific to the Motion of Commissioner Tootie Smith to change 630 acres in French Prairies (aka the Maletis properties) from Rural Reserves to Undesignated. The motion read: “That we add 630 acres into the Undesignated category, with borders of Airport Road to the east, Boones Ferry Road to the west, the Marion County line to the south and Miley Road to the north.” The motion was seconded by Commissioner Paul Savas . Chair Ludlow and Commissioners Smith, Savas and Schrader voted in favor of the motion.

Listen to the 15 minutes of the meeting Transcription fact-checked below (MP3).

Download agenda and Commissioner Work Session Packet here (PDF).

Download a printed version of the transcription (15 minutes re: French Prairie) in PDF.

Download a printed version of the entire Commissioner’s meeting transcript in PDF.

False or Erroneous Assertion The Actual Fact of the Matter
Commissioner Tootie Smith stated that “I think it (Maletis property) can be supplied with water…Wilsonville is going to currently expand their water system south of the river to Charbonneau, I don’t see how (water) could be an issue. City of Wilsonville currently serves Charbonneau, the office building at the Charbonneau I-5 exit, and the French Prairrie rest areas on I-5 with water from the Willamette River Water Treatment Plant through pipes hanging on the Boone Bridge. Wilsonville is on record as not serving any additional areas south of the river, notwithstanding elements in the City Water Master Plan envisioning water line upgrades to Charbonneau in 2022 (estimated at >$1.5M). ODOT has precluded expansion or addition of any lines for either water or sewer if they are on the Boone Bridge. Charbonneau has a city well in reserve for emergency in case of failure of the bridge infrastructure. Beyond the need for service volume, there is the need to maintain adequate fire flow pressures to protect industrial buildings south of the river. This would likely require construction of water tanks/reservoirs on the south side of the river.
Commissioner Tootie Smith stated that “Aurora Airport currently gets their water from City of Aurora: it could be expanded not very far up the road.” Water on the Aurora Airport is sourced from on-site wells, and the Aurora Airport Owners Association has been pursuing various strategies to convince the City of Aurora to begin providing water to resolve well issues. City of Aurora currently has little, if any, excess water supply to serve the demands of their existing city boundaries.
Commissioner Tootie Smith asserted that “the transportation, to me this is the biggest selling point is the transportation. Yes I-5 is there but there is an additional seven roads in the area that can support that property. And I drove it this weekend: Airport Road, Ehlen Road, Arndt Road, Miley Road, Butteville Road, Hwy 551.” In an April 6, 2009, joint state agencies (ODOT, ODA, DLCD, ODFW, and ODF) letter to the Metro Reserves Steering Committee, ODOT indicated that the South Metro I-5 corridor and Boone Bridge were at maximum traffic-handling capacity, and that the cost to increase capacity was “huge,” or “over $500 million.” ODOT states in this letter (page 3) that: “The analysis shows that the highways least suitable to accommodate additional trips and most expensive to improve, are… I-5, especially the segment from Or 217 to south of the Willamette River.”

Surface roads feed the majority of their traffic to I-5, partly because the nearest alternate crossings of the Willamette are both two-lane bridges, in Oregon City and near St. Paul (besides the Canby Ferry, of course). Either alternate route is more than 30 miles out of the way. The local roads mentioned here are mostly dangerous two-lane rural farm-to-market roads, without shoulders or turn lanes, not built to urban or freight truck standards.

Commissioner Tootie Smith asserted regarding the so-called transportation problem that “People that would work at those locations would probably come from the south as housing is cheaper in St Paul, Hubbard, Woodburn, Aurora and Canby compared to industrial workers in Wilsonville & Tualatin. Wouldn’t even be using Boone Bridge Rd – traffic would be coming in reverse direction, so to say we need to expand the Boone Bridge further, it would be only bridge in state with 7 lanes!” As the April 2009 joint State agencies letter confirmed, the I-5 Corridor through Wilsonville has been at capacity for some years, and is among the three most congested parts of I-5 in metro Portland. Further, the Boone Bridge has been at capacity for over five years. According to 2011 US Census data, only 3.2% of Aurora Airport employees reside in Hubbard, and less than 20% reside in Marion County: the majority reside in metro Portland and will use I-5 and the Boone Bridge for commuting. If employees will be coming primarily from Marion County how will that help unemployment in Clackamas County? Is the goal to get people in Clackamas County to move to Marion County?

The Boone Bridge is critical because west coast traffic in the I-5 corridor, especially truck traffic, has six through-lanes on the Interstate Bridge and eight lanes on the Glenn Jackson. That’s 14 total lanes carrying similar freight traffic as the six lanes on the Boone Bridge.

Commissioner Tootie Smith stated that “the property is also supported by a railroad. Union Pacific has a short line and a mainline.” The only railroad to be close enough to be practical is the Willamette and Pacific line that runs parallel to and west of I-5. Creating a railroad spur would require a bridge over I-5, a major infrastructure construction project only feasible with the industrialization of hundreds of acres. The Union Pacific line parallels Hwy 99E and runs through Canby and Aurora. It is not proximal to the Maletis properties.
Commissioner Tootie Smith asserts that “Airport Road is the eastern boundary because east of Airport Road is prime farmland.” According to the US Dept. of Agriculture Soil Maps, all the land south of the Willamette River and east of the Pudding River is prime farmland zoned EFU (exclusive farm use) comprised of Class 1, 2 and 3 soils.
Commissioner Paul Savas seconded the motion of Commissioner Smith to work to make the 630 acres (Maletis property) Undesignated. During the comments following the vote, he stated “I’m not familiar with all the 630 acres, and my caveat will be that none of that land is productive farm land, if it is I don’t support is – so that’s caveat number one.” The Maletis property is comprised of two “types” of property by usage: first there is a golf course, and second there is surrounding EFU farm land, most of it being farmed. The golf course received the last conditional use permit granted by the State for a golf course on EFU farm land, and if the golf course usage ever stops (under current law) it must revert to farm usage. According to the USDA definition of prime farm land, it is land that would provide prime conditions for farming if sufficient water is available through precipitation or irrigation. The USDA soil maps show it all to be prime farmland comprised mainly of Willamette Silt Loam soils. The use as a golf course does not change the soil types or the designation.
During his comments prior to voting on the motion, Chair John Ludlow stated that “I read report from Port of Portland that said this is best developable property in the Region. Even if made Undesignated, t would still need City of Wilsonville to provide services and annex that property. So this great fear about it being Undesignated ….Undesignated still means there’s a heck of a process to go through. What is the big fear of that? Let’s also remember, and I was Mayor there 25 years ago and we all had a different idea about that area at that time. This is temporary. This existing Wilsonville council will not be around should this property ever be developed. They won’t be there, period. Chair Ludlow’s comments speak to two dynamics. The first is a willful choice to ignore the previous Urban/Rural Reserves process which designated the Maletis property and the larger French Prairie lands in Clackamas County as Rural Reserves, knowing that to undertake a change in a portion of the Reserves already designated would disrupt the overall reserves agreement for the entire Metro area. The second, by positioning any development as way off in the future, beyond the term or lives of the current Wilsonville City Council, is simply an attempt to minimize the fact that the result of the pending vote is to try and take 630 acres of prime farmland out of its current Rural Reserves designation so that it is available at some future time for annexation into an adjoining City for the purpose of development.
Further during his comments before the vote on the motion, Chair John Ludlow stated that “Charbonneau opposed the safety tower at the Aurora Airport.” Over ten years ago, when first discussions regarding an air traffic control tower (ATC) became public, there was initial opposition at Charbonneau due to lack of definition about the benefits and consequences. More recently, Charbonneau recognized the safety and possible over-flight reduction benefits of the tower but has expressed concern that it may bring more jets from overcrowded Hillsboro Airport and elsewhere. These concerns were reinforced by the additional jet hangars built/being built by South End Airpark. Charbonneau did not actively oppose the tower. Charbonneau objected to the fact that the Intergovernmental Agreement between Oregon Dept. of Aviation and Marion County excluded Clackamas County, Wilsonville and Charbonneau from the airport impact area, as well as the Aurora Airport Master Planning Process that ignored local input and survey data to support expansion of the airport. Chair Ludlow’s statement is also in error, as the President of the Charbonneau Home Owner’s Association was invited to and attended the ATC Tower Ribbon Cutting on August 4, 2015.

Langdon Farms, the Maletis brothers and the 2015 Legislative session

The Maletis brothers started early in planning for the 2015 Legislative session, and much of that activity began with the Clackamas County Commissioners. A handful of legislators, from both major parties, supported efforts to legislatively supersite specific properties for industrial use contrary to urban/rural reserves process. In a coordinated way, boosters of developing additional industrial lands at the Aurora Airport and ‘backdoor’ attempts to gain land use approval for industrial development at Langdon Farms Golf course to legislatively change rural reserves designations carefully made court tested, in a classic end run around Oregon’s land use system. Thanks to the diligent efforts of local citizens and the courage of a few legislators, this land use debacle was avoided, but only by just one vote!

As the current Legislative session moved forward, it turned out that the Clackamas County Commissioners were actively supporting at least two bills that included the French Prairie rural reserves. On April 6, Commissioner Tootie Smith, on behalf of the Clackamas County Commission testified in favor of SB 716 (an industrial large lot land bill) and made the case about the need for large lot industrial lands in Clackamas County. The opponents had their say too, with the hearing room filled with opposition citizens from Charbonneau and large numbers of people testifying against dismantling the Urban/Rural Reserve process. The bill died in committee when one of its sponsors, Sen. Alan Olsen (R) District 20-Canby learned that in contrast to what he had been assured, it was site specific and the Clackamas County Commission intended that the industrial land be the Maletis brother/Langdon Farms property. Full detail of the Clackamas County Commissioner involvement, including the level of campaign donations four of the five received from the Maletis brothers is detailed below.

Following the SB 716 hearing, Richard Whitman, Natural Resources Policy Director for Governor Kate Brown sent a letter of opposition to the committee, specifically stating that: “The fundamental concern with SB 716 is that, as written, it undermines the very carefully crafted process for urban growth boundary amendments in the Portland metro area, and as a result threatens to destabilize the land use program in the most populous region of our state.” Download the letter here.

The site-specific aspect is a critically important one, because it is the lynch pin that allows us to see if what is going on is the use of soft money in the form of campaign influence to achieve a desired legislative outcome. To that point, the Maletis Brothers and their lobbyist Hassina Squires didn’t stop with SB 716. Coincidentally, Rep. Julie Parrish had sponsored HB 3313 which included a property description that mapped almost precisely to the Maletis Brothers’ holdings in French Prairie. Although the positioning was about “creating jobs” on large lot developments, one wonders, what Rep. Parrish stands to benefit! Download the Oregonian article about SB 716.

What followed was a classic “gut and stuff” scenario where other good, bad and neutral House bills that had to do with land use were at risk of being amended into something altogether different than originally intended. The efforts included HB 3211, then HB 2121 and finally Rep. Kennemer’s HB 3543 which began as a bill at the request of Boring Community Planning Organization “to permit electors of areas within urban growth boundary, urban reserve, rural reserve or metropolitan service districts to petition county board for withdrawal.” What began as a bill to help Boring was amended to remove Area 4J from the Rural Reserves designation.

Fortunately HB 3543 died in the House Rules Committee, as more and more legislators realized what was afoot, and became unwilling to cut a special legislative carve out from the previously established Rural Reserves – particularly one that would financially benefit the Maletis brothers. A great deal of proactive lobbying was responsible for the change of Legislative perspective, including a terrific position document on the problems with development south of the Willamette River put forward by the City of Wilsonville. Download South of the River Development Position Document here.

The moral of the story for French Prairie? The Maletis brothers have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past few years appealing the Urban/Rural Reserves designations, and have failed at successive tries for a Legislative bill to pull Area 4J out of the Rural Reserves designation. We can be sure of one thing: they will be back for the 2015 Legislative session too!

To protect this fertile, historical land, we must stay vigilant! Next round starts in February!

Pay to Play at the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners

The current Legislative session has been instructive in a number of ways. For south Metro residents and those in French Prairie it has been particularly so because it has illustrated the catch phrase: follow the money! In this instance the money flow had been from the Maletis brothers to four of the Clackamas County commissioners.

Campaign contribution background

The Maletis brothers have sought legislative solutions in past sessions, and tried and failed to have the Urban/Rural Reserves process changed through the appeal process. So far they’ve been unsuccessful in both: they’ve gotten no legislative traction, and the Court of Appeals denied all their claims to have their property which includes Langdon Farms, removed for development from the Metro Rural Reserves designation.

In the past three years four seats on the Clackamas County Commission have changed, and significant campaign contributions were made by Chris and Tom Maletis. A quick check or OreStar at the Secretary of State’s web site can confirm the following direct personal donations from Chris or Tom Maletis:

  • John Ludlow (between Feb. and Oct. 2012) = $25,000
  • Tootie Smith (between April and Nov. 2012) = $14,000
  • Paul Savas (between Nov.2011 and Nov. 2014) = $15,000
  • Martha Schrader (between Jan 2008 and Oct. 2012) = $4,500

These are very large sums of money for a county commission race, but it is no surprise given the multi-year effort of the Maletis brothers to overturn the Rural Reserve designation for their 380 acres of farm land in French Prairie that includes the Langdon Farms golf course. [Download full detail of individual campaign contributions here]

The question, then, is whether these campaign donations directly influenced the thinking and behavior of the newly elected Commissioners?

The last Legislative session produced a so-called Grand Bargain to remedy Urban/Rural Reserve problems in Washington County. The Clackamas County Commissioners latched onto the Grand Bargain concept as a means to remove the Langdon Farms property from its inclusion in a Rural Reserve.

What the Clackamas County commissioners chose to overlook was: 1) the legislative Grand Bargain was intended to be a one-time fix to a legal problem in Washington County that resulted in an appeal to LCDC and the Court of Appeals, and 2) as Rep. Clem made clear, it only happened because all the parties (Metro, Washington County, the Cities in Washington County and those in opposition to the Washington County reserve designations) were in agreement that it was the best solution. Of great concern is that the original reserve designations were the result of significant public input and the current efforts of the Clackamas County commissioners lacks public input.

Performance Clackamas strategic plan released

In late 2014, with little fanfare and after a process that was so minimally public that many of the cities in the County didn’t know it was going on, the Clackamas County commissioners released a new strategic plan for the County, titled Performance Clackamas.

Many of the goals, while laudable, seemed pretty grandiose, such as: 10,000 family wage jobs and wages earned above the national average and home ownership of 72 percent or greater), a 20-year supply of serviceable non-retail employment land, employment land including large lot industrial….to provide 500 jobs within a nine-month window, and an additional 120 miles of county roads plus I-5 access to Canby. [Download complete Performance Clackamas plan here]

Upon learning of the release of the Clackamas County Commission’s new strategic plan and hearing that the Commission was discussing its Legislative and lobbying position in advance of the 2015 session, Charbonneau and Friends of French Prairie communicated directly with the Clackamas County Commission.

Friends of French Prairie Communications: On December 3, 2014, Ben Williams, President of Friends of French Prairie wrote a letter to the Clackamas County Commission addressing the consequences of the new county strategic plan, stating:

Much of this outcome of the new Clackamas County strategic plan can be summarized as major development south of the river, and we reiterate the opposition of the majority of residents to this – in addition to the on the record position of the City of Wilsonville who (as the closest municipality) would likely be looked to for urban services. We understand that Clackamas County is considering undertaking activity in the next Legislative session to try to change the Rural Reserves designation for French Prairie. [Download complete FOFP letter here]

The response received from Chair Ludlow in a letter dated December 16, 2014, was as follows:

In response to your concerns relating to land use issues in French Prairie, Clackamas County has no current plans to seek a legislative change to rural reserves designation south of the Willamette River. We very much understand and recognize the importance of preserving the County’s high quality agricultural lands. [Download complete Ludlow letter here]

Charbonneau Country Club Communications: On December 15, 2014, Tony Holt, Vice President of Charbonneau Country Club wrote a letter to the Clackamas County Commission. In a section titles Tampering with the French Prairie Rural Reserve, Charbonneau stated

1) its surprise given the Court of Appeals confirmation of the French Prairie Rural Reserves, that the current County Commission should choose to include the so-called 'Exit 282A Area' (aka Langdon Farms Golf Course) of the French Prairie Rural Reserve as a possible candidate in their study of potential employment lands…..

2) and that ….. citing the Washington County grand bargain, as a basis for a request that the Clackamas County Commission would ask for a 'Petit Bargain' allowing a remand of ALL the reserve decisions made in Clackamas County.” [Download complete Charbonneau letter here]

The response received from Chair Ludlow in a letter dated December 16, 2014, was as follows:

Regarding the French Prairie Rural Reserve, Clackamas County presently has no plan to seek a legislative or legal change to the rural reserves designation south of the Willamette River, including the Exit 282 area. This was a unanimous decision of the Board of county Commissioners at a policy session on December 3, 2014. [Download complete Ludlow letter here]

2015 Legislative session

As the current Legislative session moved forward, it turned out that the Clackamas County Commissioners were actively supporting at least two bills that included the French Prairie rural reserves. On April 6, Commissioner Tootie Smith, on behalf of the Clackamas County Commission testified in favor of SB 716 (an industrial large lot land bill) and made the case about the need for large lot industrial lands in Clackamas County. The bill died in committee when one of its sponsors, Sen. Alan Olsen (R) District 20-Canby learned that in contrast to what he had been assured, it was site specific and the Clackamas County Commission intended that the industrial land be the Maletis brother/Langdon Farms property.

The site-specific aspect is a critically important one, because it is the lynch pin that allows us to see if what is going on is the use of soft money in the form of campaign influence to achieve a desired legislative outcome.

The Grand Betrayal”

On Tuesday, April 21, the Clackamas County Commission received a Public and Governmental Affairs presentation that included a Legislative update and discussion of Issues. The meeting (a transcript is available online at Clackamas County) had an overarching focus of the need to address the shortage of industrial lands in Clackamas County, and the common theme of the meeting was action to be taken in the current Legislative session or in future Legislative sessions to prompt action to withdraw land from Rural Reserves for conversion to industrial development.

Of note, only one large lot piece of property was discussed as being a candidate for removal from Rural Reserves: the Maletis brothers’ property including Langdon Farms. Even though public statements had been made by Commissioners, Sen. Olsen, and others about consideration of large lot lands in the east county, in the Molalla area, etc. at this crucial meeting that resulted in a legislative request, only Langdon Farms was targeted.

The result of that meeting was motions on four separate land use subjects that resulted in a communication to the House Rural Communities and Land Use committee regarding HB 3211 that stated the following:

The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners (BCC) met this morning, April 21, 2015, to discuss HB 3211 (Stafford) and related land use issues in Clackamas County. The BCC respectfully requests that the following four items be included in HB 3211 or any legislation that addresses these issues. Drafts of these proposed amendments are attached.

  1. Designate Area 4H (Advance Road in Wilsonville) as acknowledged land within the urban growth boundary.
  2. Designate the Lanphere property as rural industrial but prohibit retail uses.
  3. Should the -3 amendments pass, add language to allow Clackamas County and Metro to revise urban and rural reserves at a later date to add additional land suitable for employment.
  4. Remove the rural reserve designation from that portion of the real property in Area 4J Rural, lying east of Interstate 5 and west of Airport Road.

Clackamas County understands that this request is arriving at the 11th hour, and we appreciate your consideration of these additions. Should the Committee be unable to consider these recommended amendments today, we remain interested in their adoption to the bill in the remainder of the session.

The property in No. 4 is specifically the Maletis brothers/Landgon Farms property, which lies between I-5 and Airport Road north of the County line on Arndt Road and is referred to as Area 4J in the Metro Rural Reserves map. [Download the Clackamas County Commission correspondence to the House Committee here]

The entire transcript of the April 21 Clackamas County Commission meeting can be accessed online at: mediastream.clackamas.us/vod/mp3/presentation/work20150421.mp3

It is worth taking an hour to listen to this transcript because the nature of the debate has to do with the details, not with the substance – it is a foregone conclusion that the land being requested for removal from Rural Reserves is the Maletis brothers property and there is no discussion of other alternatives!

What should be of concern to Clackamas County citizens is not just the absolute contradiction between public statements and the political actions (excepting Commissioner Bernard who voted NO against the motion to remove the Langdon Farms property from rural reserves) but the degree to which these publicly elected officials appear to be doing the bidding of their major financial donors in the last election cycle. These four Commissioners have become the principal cheerleaders of going to the State Legislature for a land use fix that specifically benefits those donors.

How can four of the five Clackamas County Commissioners undertake and participate in such a blatant betrayal of the public trust?


Maletis Brothers & Klamath tribe development at Langdon Farms

Impact of Metro's decision regarding Rural and Urban Reserves

The recent approval by LCDC of Metro's Urban and Rural Reserves designation not only wraps up a multi-year undertaking that is commendable in intent, very large in scope and very relevant for French Prairie, but confirms the decision by Clackamas County Commission that the majority of the French Prairie lands which are in Clackamas County should be designated Rural Reserves. As pointed out in the Oregonian article (below), this decision is not locked in stone, as it can still be legally appealed, and will be periodically reviewed—giving developers the ability to try again to change the designation and consequent zoning. However, for now, the approval of Metro's 50-year growth plan gives some real relief against the non-stop development pressure in north French Prairie.

Senator Merkley takes stand against Langdon Farms becoming Trust Lands

On April 9, 2010, after a series of meetings with all parties involved, Senator Jeff Merkley sent a letter to the City of Wilsonville expressing his opposition to the proposal by the Maletis Brothers to sell Langdon Farms and their surrounding property to the Klamath Tribe so that it could be taken into Trust Land status and allow development outside of state and local land
use oversight. After meeting with local municipalities, citizens groups, the developers and the Klamath Tribe, Senator Merkley said the consequence of such action would set "a terrible precedent and create a significant loophole in the state's land use system." In stating his opposition, the Senator went on to say that should such a proposal to the Bureau of Indian
Affairs move forward, "I am prepared to enter the discussion with the Department of the Interior and explain my concerns."
[Download Senator Merkley's letter in PDF]

Public confirmation of development deal - September, 2009

In a series of articles by Patrick Johnson of the Wilsonville Spokesman and Dana Tims of The Oregonian, including interviews with Chris and Tom Maletis, the Matetis brothers and the chief of the Klamath Tribe have publicly confirmed they are far along in negotiations for the purchase of Langdon Farms and surrounding lands by the tribe.

The proposal is for the sale of 385 acres of EFU land, including Langdon Farms (a golf course on EFU land with a conditional use permit) to the Klamath Tribe. The Tribe would intend to take the land into trust, meaning it would become land in a sovereign Indian nation, and would not be subject to State, County or Municipal zoning or land use regulations. Implied in the public statements is the creation of a development company to actually do the commercial development. Different types of commercial development are being discussed, but as Dana Tims notes, a casino development can never be assumed to be ruled out.

This approach is clearly an end run attempt by rogue developers who have had all previous development attempts stymied and stopped by local residents and municipalities. Read full details in the most recent Media Articles posted at the bottom of this page, including the decision in September by the Clackamas County Commission to designate the Clackamas County portion of French Prairie (which includes the Maletis land holdings) as Rural Reserves in the Metro Urban/Rural Reserves UGB process.

Town Hall Meeting – August 28, 2008

On Thursday, August 28, Friends of French Prairie and Jim Gilbert for Oregon sponsored a Town Hall Meeting at the Hubbard Fire Dept., on the subject of “A Tribal Casino on French Prairie.” Presentations were made by Jim Gilbert, candidate for State Representative; Ben Williams, President of Friends of French Prairie; Brian Clem, State Representative and Vice-Chair of the Agriculture Committee; Charlotte Lehan, Mayor of Wilsonville and candidate for Clackamas County Commissioner.  Mark Cushing, attorney for the Maletis brothers requested, and was granted, time to present the Maletis brother’s side of the proposed development. Over 130 people turned out to hear the full story about the implications of a large real estate development at Langdon Farms.  
[Download the Minutes and a Summary in PDF]

Video of the Town Hall Meeting is also available:

Jim Gilbert, candidate for State Representative, and farmer/nurseryman
from Molalla VIEW VIDEO
Ben Williams, President of Friends of French Prairie VIEW VIDEO
Mark Cushing, Attorney for the owners of Langdon Farms VIEW VIDEO
Brian Clem, State Representative and Vice-Chair of the Agriculture Committee VIEW VIDEO
Charlotte Lehan, Mayor of Wilsonville VIEW VIDEO
Q & A Part 3 w/ Closing statement by Jim Gilbert VIEW VIDEO

Late Breaking News – June, 2008

The Mega Casino project detailed below is the worst of the development scenarios on the part of Maletis Brothers Development to develop Landgon Farms and the surrounding agricultural land they have acquired.   While it seemed to die in 2007 and be replaced by the goal of developing a commercial/industrial transportation complex of tilt up concrete buildings, as detailed below, a new proposal to sell the land to the Klamath Tribe is back on the table.

  1. The Klamath Tribe has developed a formal “strategy” document for what they call their “Aurora Project,” namely to acquire all this land from the Maletis Brothers, and via a clause in the Tribal Lands Restitution law, to turn it into sovereign tribal lands.  The stated intention is to pursue commercial development, but common sense says a casino must be in the long term plans (even if presently denied) given the desire to have this much land this close to metro Portland.
    Download the Klamath Strategy for the Aurora Project in PDF
  2. The regional office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) has written the Klamath Tribe a letter providing guidance and support in this endeavor.
    Download the BIA letter in PDF
  3. The City of Wilsonville has written a formal letter of protest to the BIA in opposition to this proposed land acquisition and development, and detailing the legal shortcomings; i.e. the attempted mis-use of a loophole in the Tribal Lands Restitution Law to allow acquisition of lands outside of Klamath County.
    Download a copy of the City of Wilsonville letter in PDF
  4. Nigel Jaquiss of Willamette Week broke the story on Wednesday, June 25, providing overview of the project and detailing the goals and parties involved.
    Download this document at the bottom of this page
This new development makes all the information provided below painfully relevant once again, but now comes during an economic situation where the loss of prime farm land has significant negative economic implications in terms of local food production at a time of high fuel prices.

A Mega Casino on French Prairie The idea of siting a 'Mega Casino' on French Prairie first came to light in late 2005 with a proposal by Wayne Johnson, representing the Resource and Economic Development Company, to involve Maletis Brothers Development, and the Klamath Tribe in building a casino, big box stores and a destination resort on land owned, optioned and controlled (approx 400 acres is quoted) by Maletis Brothers Development.

It states that "We finally located a site that surpassed all our wishes, the famed Langdon Farms golf course only 15 miles from downtown Portland with I-5 frontage and access from a major interchange" and goes on to add that "this is the best location in the State of Oregon for a Destination Resort and Casino."

Current Langdon Farms Golf Course

Langdon Farms Golf Course at the I-5 and Charbonneau exit

The site plan showed the development of a 200,000 square foot casino, a convention center, a strip center, a 300-400 unit motel, 2 parking structures and larger areas of auto, RV and truck parking all located in the triangle enclosed by I-5, Arndt Road and Highway 51 (the Hubbard cut-off). Currently most of this area is being farmed. To the east, on the area enclosed by Miley, Airport and Arndt roads and by Highway 51, the plan was to locate big box stores and up to 1,000 apartment units in the area south of Langdon Farms golf course and north of the airport and to place condo units around an extended golf course. The proposal was convoluted, looked hastily prepared and nothing appeared to come of it.

Langdon Farms Casino Project

Rendition of proposed Casino & Convention Center/Hotel at Langdon Farms Golf Course

However, in May 2006 the Klamath Tribe applied to the federal government for the right to build an off-reservation casino on French Prairie. The site was unspecified. The tribe filed to beat the cut-off for pending federal legislation seeking to curtail off-reservation gaming. Chris Maletis confirmed that Maletis Brothers Development have an option to purchase the land where the casino would be located. Even though that land is designated 'Exclusive Farm Use' (EFU) and although his golf course is designated EFU with a conditional use permit specifically for a golf course only, he is quoted in the Wilsonville Spokesman as saying 'It is an urbanized area. We are in favor of development. This is an area that has been earmarked by arms of the state as an area for job creation". In an interview with KATU-TV News in the summer of 2006 he stated that the land in question is not being farmed, a statement that seems at odds with what the eye reveals when driving through the area.

An editorial in the Oregonian earlier this year stated "it is all but impossible to imagine the federal government or any Oregon governor approving, for example, the Klamath Tribe's out-of-nowhere request to build a casino near an existing golf course south of Wilsonville". Further they said "other than in the exceptional case where an overwhelming public interest exists, those applications (referring to off-reservation casinos) ought to be denied, and Congress should firmly shut the door on off-reservation casinos". However, subsequently the legislation to ban off-reservation casinos was defeated in the House of Representatives.

Vigilance is required, as the Maletis brothers seem determined to take their Exclusive Farm Use French Prairie land and add to their wealth by encouraging the development of warehouses, casinos or any other commercial or industrial project they can find.

Prepared by: Board of Charbonneau Country Club

FOFP Position on this Project.

Friends of French Prairie is opposed to the Langdon Farms Golf Course conversion to a casino and hotel development for three reasons:

  • The property is zoned EFU and Langdon Farms received a Conditional Use Permit for a golf course on EFU land when it was founded-a possibility that no longer exists under current zoning regulations. Virtually all the land around it is EFU and being farmed-and should continue as such.
  • While this property straddles I-5, the Boone Bridge over the Wilamette River, the Canby/Hubbard-Charbonneau interchange on I-5 and all the surface streets are almost at their maximum capacity now. The stretch of freeway between the south Wilsonville exit and Landgon Farms is among the busiest and most accident prone sections of freeway in the state at present. The infrastructure will not support this type of massive development.
  • This property is at the "doorway" into French Prairie, being at the north end of Marion County and south of Charbonneau at Wilsonville (both within Clackamas County), and a development of this size would not only violate current zoning and be in flagrant opposition to the French Prairie Vision Statement, but could easily be the beginning of a non-stop development land rush along I-5 from metro Portland to Salem. Picture the I-5 corridor from Seattle to Olympia!

Recent media coverage of this Current Issue

Officials field tough questions at meet-and-greet
October 7, 2015
[Download PDF here]

Metro area's 50 year growth plan
August 20, 2011
[Download PDF here]

Woodburn IndependentSenator Merkley opposed to Maletis land deal
May 4, 2010
[Download PDF here]

French Prairie is no place for intensive development
September 24, 2009
[Download PDF here]

Roll up the welcome mat
September 22, 2009
[Download PDF here]

Kalamath Tribes seek 285 acres near Wilsonville
September 22, 2009
[Download PDF here]

Klamath tribes send letter to membership about Aurora Property  
September 16, 2009
[Download PDF here]

Grand Ronde Now Watching Maletis Land
August 13, 2009
[Download PDF here]

Maletis in New Negotiations with Klamath Tribe
August 9, 2009
[Download PDF here]

The Maletis Brothers: A Work in Progress
June 10, 2009
[Download PDF here]

The Maletis Brothers: A Work in Progress
June 7, 2009
[Download PDF here]

A Solar Panel Plant at Langdon Farms
February 12, 2009
[Download PDF here]

Bill could target golf course land
April 4, 2007
[Download PDF here]

SEEING GREEN: The Klamath Tribe and golf course owners seek a windfall from a loophole.
June 25, 2008
[Download PDF here]

Oregon Agriculture Alliance: Ag Informer
June 17, 2008
[Download PDF here]

Brothers mulling sale to Klamath
July 13, 2008
[Download PDF here]

Fight Brews Over Rich Farmland
August 15, 2008
[Download PDF here]

Is there a big casino in French Prairie's Future?
August 25, 2008
[Download PDF here]

Langdon Farms development rages on…
September 3, 2008
[Download PDF here]


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