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County to appeal LUBA ruling

ASHLAND ' A fight over a proposed industrial project will tread new ground in Oregon's land-use law.

Residents along Dead Indian Memorial Road won a ruling against a county-approved 24-hour asphalt batch plant operation from the Land Use Board of Appeals on Jan. 29. Jackson County will contest the ruling.

LUBA's ruling sent the issue back to the county, which will petition the Oregon Court of Appeals on grounds that LUBA doesn't have jurisdiction in the matter.

It's the first time this type of issue has ever come up, so there's no case law to guide us, said Steve Rinkle, senior assistant county counsel.

County officials originally approved the operation on April 30 for a site near milepost 5. Besides the batch plant, there would be rock crushing and ballast quarry operations. Landowner Joe Dauenhauer, through James W. Fowler Co. of Dallas, Ore., sought the approval.

LUBA's ruling cited six areas for re-examination, including the project's legal descriptions, failure to provide proper notice, habitat issues, traffic concerns, water use, and noise and visual pollution concerns.

Rinkle will file the county's appeal in a few days. He expects a decision within four to five months.

It's a real quick turnaround time. Much faster than normal, Rinkle said.

If the county succeeds in court, the operation could go ahead, but neighbors could appeal. A ruling for the neighbors would mean that Dauenhauer has to submit a new permit application, which his attorney said he may do, perhaps taking into consideration neighbors' concerns.

What the neighbors wanted was an opportunity to be heard, which they didn't get before, said Attorney Chris Hearn, who represented the LUBA appellants.

Whatever the court outcome, one of the proposed project's neighbors is pleased with the latest ruling.

It's a step in the right direction so they can be involved in the process, said Ken Ogden. I think the neighbors group has made the commitment to stick with this course of direction.

Reach Ashland bureau reporter Tony Boom at 482-4651, or e-mail