By Nathalie Hardy • Columnist • 

Commissioners hear Baker Rock remand

Yamhill County Commissioners Leslie Lewis and Mary Stern took testimony Thursday on two issues remanded to the county by the state Land Use Board of Appeals on a gravel mining application submitted by Baker Rock. Commissioner Kathy George was not able to attend.

On remand were two issues.

First, the county must find a way to show the six to 18 foot berms intended to minimize “conflicts due to dust, noise or other discharges,” can be reconciled with flood plain protections or identify a suitable alternative.

Second, Baker Rock proposed to dig a recharge trench to mitigate concerns about groundwater completion, but the county did not make the stipulation a formal condition of its approval and LUBA said it should have.

Baker Rock lawyer Todd Sadlo said the flood plain issue didn’t need to be a problem because the company can find other ways to mitigate noise concerns.

He said the company proposed the berms in response to concerns about noise, and the reception it received was a spate of complaints about the berms possibly exacerbating flooding problems.

“Now, we’re being criticized for listening to the neighbors,” he said. “We’ve never asked for a way out of this. We’ve never asked for some loophole.

“We’ve addressed every issue raised. We’ve spent three years addressing the law to make sure this project is safe and to minimize impact on neighbors.” 

Also at issue is a trench the company has proposed along the northwestern and northern boundaries of its site. It would be deep enough to foster re-injection of water into the underground supply, limiting impact on irrigation or drinking water sources used by neighbors.

Neighbor and Protect Grand Island board member Kris Bledsoe said that wasn’t good enough.

“That’s going to affect the water table and has the potential to destroy wells which are essential to our way of life,” Bledsoe said. “We lose our water rights when we have to go to a different level of water. We have to reapply. You are not setting up something that can be fixed.”

Tom Jackson, who owns property near the site, said he was concerned about the trench going deeper than the wells and contaminating them.

“When are we going to find that out?” he said. “When we’re in the hospital dying?”

He also worries about his water rights.

“I’m going to lose my registered rights, which are extremely important,” he said. “I don’t think that you guys are looking out for us property owners on Grand Island as you should be.”

A vote is expected Thursday, Dec. 6 at 10 a.m. in Room 32 of the courthouse.


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