Plan for quarry near Oakridge faces another delay

A plan to build a quarry near Oakridge is facing another delay.

Posted: May 5, 2021 12:55 PM
Updated: May 5, 2021 1:06 PM

OAKRIDGE, Ore. – A plan to build a quarry near Oakridge is facing another delay.

The Lane County Board of Commissioners said Tuesday it needs more time to take public comment and consider the plans before making a decision.

On Aug. 3, commissioners plan to hold a fourth reading of an ordinance that would pave the way for Old Hazeldell LLC to begin mining on TV Butte, which overlooks Oakridge.

The plan to build the gravel quarry has been years in the making, but has been met with resistance from the community concerned about the various impacts it might have on the area.

However, commissioners are limited in what concerns they can take into consideration. The initial quarry plans were already approved by the board several years ago. Opponents appealed to the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals, which remanded the case back to the county to reconsider several issues.

Specifically, the county must consider whether the company has done enough to mitigate the impacts the quarry would have on things like air quality, groundwater and wildlife. TV Butte has a population of deer and elk that many in the community worry would be forced to move and be negatively impacted by workers in the area.

Many residents in Oakridge said the town is united in opposition to the quarry.

“It’s a big beautiful mountain in the middle of our town and it would be a shame to see it developed and worry about the pollution from the sediment to the water shed and the air quality in town,” said Aubrey Aragon, an Oakridge resident. “Also affecting the wildlife – the elk we see up there all the time on the trails.”

Seth King, an attorney representing the Old Hazeldell LLC, defended the project, saying it will meet all state standards regarding air quality, noise and vibration impacts. King introduced several experts during a public hearing on Tuesday who testified to the minimal impacts the quarry would have on the surrounding environment.

As for the elk, King said they will naturally move away from the site.

“We have the biologist testimony that indicates….the displacement in this case is a good thing. It recognizes that the elk are adaptive, that they remove themselves from stressful circumstances,” King said.

However, most of the town remains unconvinced. Some point to petitions against the quarry that have gathered hundreds of signatures in the span of one week. Oakridge Mayor Kathy Holston blasted the plan during the hearing on Tuesday.

“It makes no sense to approve this land use change giving the go-ahead to a quarry that will pollute our air, contaminate our rivers with runoff, impact our aquifer and threaten our wildlife inventory,” Holston said.

However, legal counsel for the county reminded commissioners that the decision they make is solely based on whether or not Old Hazeldell meets the criteria for approval, not whether commissioners think the quarry is a good idea for the town.

The board will meet again on Aug. 3 to discuss the plans. You can submit public comments here.

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