Commentary, Front Page, Oakridge/Westfir

Commentary: Let’s clear the air on the Hazeldell quarry lawsuit

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By GEORGE CUSTER/Editor/The Herald  —  An article in Wednesday’s Register-Guard reported that Old Hazeldell Quarry is suing Lane County. They are suing the County for $15 million for the value of the property, plus damages.

The article, written by Adam Duvernay of The Register-Guard, made no mention of an attempt to reopen the case decided by the Lane County Commissioners last December.

It’s my layperson’s understanding that you cannot have a decision, such as the one that denied the quarry, reversed for the sake of not losing a lawsuit. You either sue to have the decision thrown out based on errors in the decision-making process, which they haven’t. Or you sue to be compensated, which they have.

The Herald spoke with the attorney for Save TV Butte, Sean Malone, concerning the recent development. He agreed that the lawsuit centers on seeking compensation from Lane County. Any attempt to pursue reopening the decision would require bringing a new case before the County Commissioners, presumably, through the Land Use Board of Appeals.

Secondly, the only testimony that will be heard by the court, if any is to be heard, will be about the suit being filed and damages requested.

Any discussion of this lawsuit with the media may make for some noise in the press. However, judges, and certainly potential lawsuit jurors, cannot be influenced by such news as it may get them disqualified for serving on the jury.

I personally oppose the quarry on all of the grounds that the Save TV Butte committee presented successfully last year. I’ll admit that I rode the fence when all of this first started. I was on the City’s Economic Development Advisory Committee during that period. The Citys’ leadership decided to take a neutral position at that time, primarily because the land in question lay outside the city limits.

It’s not the time to start sharpening the pitchforks or lighting the torches. Should this lawsuit go drastically sideways for some unforeseen reason, then there will be time to start boiling the oil. Not just yet however.

This lawsuit is about asking Lane County to compensate Old Hazeldell Quarry. The owners of the land and the investors in the project on TV Butte claim to have lost a lot of money. So goes the world of big finance, as far as I’m concerned. But that’s just my two cents worth.

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