Lane County Commissioners Deny Hazeldell Quarry Permit

After years of hearings, on Oct. 26 the Lane County Board of County Commissioner voted 3-2 to deny the permit for the Hazeldell Quarry near Oakridge. 

During the meeting, the board voted strictly on issues related to findings related to environmental issues. The dissenting minority tried to assist the applicants’ appeal process by reopening the record, but that was denied, too. 

The Old Hazeldell Quarry was first proposed in 2015. On Dec. 13, 2016, back when the board had a conservative majority, voted 4-1 to approve the application. For nearly five years since, according to board meeting documents, the application has gone through appeals and remands from the Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA), often returning to the Lane County commissioners. 

One of the financial backers of the quarry by Ed King of King Estate. The quarry planned to excavate rock for 30 to 50 years, totaling 16.9 million tons of rock from about 46 acres. 

On Aug. 3, the board discussed a LUBA remand and voted 3-2 to tentatively deny the application and directed county staff to return with a report on the quarry’s impact on big game. 

The Oct. 26 meeting was limited to discussion on impacts to big game and habitat. However, criticism of the quarry has included issues related to Oakridge’s growing eco-tourism sector, indigenous rights, air quality and other environmental factors. 

County associate planner Deanna Wright presented the impacts of big game impacts at the meeting. Wright said the quarry would result in elk herd displacement and that the applicant hadn’t presented a mitigation plan.  

“Our animals and environment are significant,” Lane County Commissioner Heather Buch said at the Oct. 26 meeting. “The environmental impact clearly outweighed those positive impacts, and we should be really considering those things.”

Commissioner Jay Bozievich repeatedly asked during the meeting to reopen the record, allowing the developer to address questions. He said that reopening the record is useful for the applicant during the appeal process. “Let the applicant assert that information and opponents rebut,” he added. “Then we make the final decision now, rather than rushing to a decision now, forcing the applicant into an appeals process without being able to utilize that information.” 

The commissioners voted 3-2 to deny reopening the record. Right-leaning Commissioners Pat Farr and Bozievich (who were a part of the board when it first approved the permit for the quarry) dissented. The two commissioners also voted against denying the permit. 

Before voting on whether to deny the quarry permit, Chair Joe Berney prefaced by saying four out of the five commissioners on the board have received campaign contributions from one of the principals on the application. “This is not partisan,” he added. “I want to say that whatever the vote, this will not be the last time that we hear of this.”