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Letter to the Editor: To all Oakridge residents

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To all Oakridge residents:

I am a member of the Lane County Planning Commission, but I am writing to you as a private citizen who sympathizes with the ordeal Oakridge faces (again) re: the Old Hazeldell Quarry.

Several presenters in the June 18 Planning Commission meeting asked, Why is this happening? Wasn’t this already decided?

Good questions, and ones that I put to Lane County staff back in April. The answer is: An applicant can submit the same application as many times as they want.

Logically, one would expect some new evidence or arguments. In this case, however, the application is unchanged; the applicant stated they’re hoping for a different outcome based on changes in county personnel.

The planning commission is an advisory board made up of unpaid volunteers. We will make a recommendation, but the county commissioners will decide. That’s where those personnel changes count: Since the 3-2 vote against the quarry in 2021, two county commissioners are new.

In an ethical world, three of the five county commissioners would recuse themselves from the quarry decision, because they have received more than $200K in campaign donations from the applicant and other sand & gravel operators. However, they are not legally obligated to do so.

I encourage you to focus your efforts on convincing the county commissioners that the proposed quarry is a very, very bad idea. The strength of their decision – for or against — will likely play a big part in subsequent appeals to LUBA and the courts.

A few years ago, I went through a similar action by the City of Florence. My neighbors submitted 1,400 pages of evidence against a proposed annexation (of wetlands!); not one person testified in favor of the application. Nonetheless, the city ignored us, and the developer won.

I hope and pray that the county commissioners will pay attention to your plight, and exercise common sense; you’ve been through enough.

Bruce Hadley
Florence, OR

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