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Court deals setback to company trying to develop a quarry near Oakridge

File photo
City of Oakridge
The Oregon Court of Appeals ruled against a proposal to build a gravel quarry near Oakridge. This is a file photo of the Oakridge area.

The Oregon Court of Appeals has dealt a setback to the effort to build a gravel quarry near Oakridge.

The ruling this month overturned an earlier Land Use Board of Appeals decision that appeared to pave the way for the project, which was rejected by both Lane County and city councils in Oakridge and nearby Westfir.

The court action was hailed by opponents of the project, including environmental groups.

"We're talking about blasting a mountain apart right on the edge of Oakridge," said Josh Laughlin, director of the environmental group Cascadia Wildlands. He called the proposal "horrible" for the quality of life for people in the area.

The company behind the proposal insisted the court decision doesn't mean the end for the project.

"The commitment to Old Hazeldell Quarry remains strong," said spokesperson Phil Donovan. "It is a tremendous opportunity to create jobs, grow the economy and provide an important resource to the public. We will continue the process towards approval and operation."

Laughlin, meanwhile, said he’s hopeful the legal victory for opponents will encourage the property’s owners to sell it to conservation groups.

“Ideally, that would satisfy all the parties," he said. "And we could turn this piece of landscape into some sort of a park for the outstanding values that it offers, like wildlife habitat, recreation, solitude. Things that really make Oakridge the special place that it is.”

Chris Lehman has been reporting on Oregon issues since 2006. He joined the KLCC news department in December, 2018. Chris was born and raised in Pennsylvania, and graduated from Temple University with a degree in journalism. His public broadcasting career includes stops in Louisiana and Illinois. Chris has filed for national programs including “Morning Edition” and “All Things Considered.”
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