Baker Rock prevails in Salem
Three times, Protect Grand Island has appealed to the state Land Use Board of Appeals. Three times, it has come away virtually empty handed.
Earlier appeals in the case, pitting the value of the island’s rich topsoil against that of the rich vein of gravel lying below, produced only a referral back to the county on two narrow elements — a recharge trench and a noise-mitigation berm. And the county took action that satisfied LUBA’s concerns on those scores.
The crux of the opposition argument in the most recent appeal was that the county had failed to adequately address flooding concerns.
It argued mining would permanently destroy high-value farmland on one site and threaten high-value farmland on neighboring sites, thus threatening the island’s rural, agricultural orientation. It acknowledged the company’s attempt to mitigate those impacts, but said they are inherently doomed to failure.
According to island property owner Kris Bledsoe, the next step is deciding whether to continue to the Oregon Court of Appeals. “We’ll decide that in the next week or so,” she said.
If Protect Grand Island concludes further legal action would be futile, she said, “There are other options for us to continue to fight the quarry. For many reasons, it’s best for us if we don’t disclose those at this time.
“On Grand Island, we have many generations of independent people who are not going to just sit back and let outside groups come in and damage what they have enjoyed for so many years. We will do everything legally possible to stop it.”
“We’re very happy,” said Baker Rock attorney Todd Sadlo. While he was pleased to have the company’s position reaffirmed once again, he was not surprised, he said.
He has repeatedly assured regulators the company could and would meet all applicable county and state standards. He said it is fully capable of implementing effective environmental safeguards, and has presented detailed plans making its case.
“The few issues they appealed on were small and their assignments of error were a house of cards,” Sadlo said. “Once the first one went down, the others went with it.”