By Nathalie Hardy • Columnist • 

Gravel case back under LUBA gavel

One side touts the rich topsoil, the other the rich layer of gravel lying underneath. And both values are recognized in Oregon land use law.

The most recent of two previous appeals by the lead opposition group, Protect Grand Island, resulted in a referral to the county on two relatively narrow elements, a recharge trench and a noise-mitigation berm. The county took action aimed at satisfying LUBA’s concerns on both counts, then voted its approval once again.

That action satisfied Baker Rock Inc., which filed its gravel mining proposal in 2010. However, it spurred Protect Grand Island to mount yet another round of appellate action.

Spokeswoman Kris Bledsoe said the crux of the opposition argument is that the county did not properly or adequately address flooding concerns.

Her group argues mining would permanently destroy the land in question, and threaten both neighboring lands and the rural agricultural way of life those lands support. It acknowledges the company’s attempt to mitigate those impacts, but maintains adequate mitigation simply isn’t possible.

Baker Rock’s attorney, Todd Sadlo, has repeatedly affirmed the company can and will meet all applicable state and county standards. He says it is fully capable of implementing effective environmental safeguards, and has presented detailed plans to that effect.

Sadlo termed the opposition’s repeated appeals nothing more than delaying tactics. “They’ve gotten a lot of delay out of the land use process,” he said of opponents.

LUBA has promised to hand down a ruling by Tuesday, April 16.

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