TALENT — The City Council plans to get involved in the decision of whether an asphalt batch plant should be allowed to keep operating on the edge of town.
Located along Bear Creek next to Interstate 5 near Lynn Newbry Park and the Greenway, the 11-acre plant owned by Mountain View Paving of Ashland is within Talent's urban growth boundary. The plant has operated at the site since 2001, but it doesn't meet county regulations, including zoning, for the site.
Owner Paul Meyer claims to be grandfathered in because the site was used for an asphalt plant before Mountain View Paving started operating there, and the company has filed applications with Jackson County seeking permission to continue.
After hearing concerns from residents and learning that the city has standing with Jackson County in the matter, the Talent City Council decided Wednesday to study Mountain View Paving's applications and actively participate in the permit process.
"Our main concern is the safety and health issue," said Doyle Cornwell, who lives across Bear Creek from the plant in Mt. View Estates and spoke at the council meeting.
"There's a lot of dust. There's a lot of noise. And when they batch, there's absolutely a lot of fumes that come over. Some people can't even go out of their houses," said Cornwell.
Recent agreements between the county and Talent as part of the Regional Problem Solving process call for the county to request comment on issues that impact the city, said Councilor Darby Stricker, adding that she learned of the requirement the day of the meeting.
"I can't believe I didn't find it sooner," Stricker said of the county ordinance that calls for the request.
About 50 people, many from Mt. View Estates, attended the council meeting, said Stricker. About eight or nine spoke or submitted letters, and 87 people signed a petition asking the council to review the matter. Cornwell submitted a letter that had the signatures of another 37 people.
"I haven't seen that kind of public response in a long time," said Stricker.
City officials have previously noted that the plant falls under county jurisdiction.
"(Mayor) Bill (Cecil) and (City Manager) Tom (Corrigan) were absolutely correct that the county does have the jurisdiction to make the decision," said Stricker.
"What none of us knew until the last day was that we should have had a request for response, and we do have standing."
Corrigan said the city is on a county mailing list for notification, but no one in the city has seen a notice about the matter.
The city has asked about the possibility of an extension to allow for comments, but Jackson County development officials have not responded yet, Corrigan said.
Jackson County must render a decision on the applications by May 24.
Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at email@example.com.