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Mt. View Estates' fill, riprap work lacked county permit

TALENT — Riprap and fill apparently were placed on state-owned land in and adjacent to Bear Creek without a required county permit by a contractor working for Mountain View Estates in 2006, Jackson County officials say.

The county recently became aware of the situation and notified the landowner, the Oregon Department of Transportation.

“We have opened up a code enforcement case and have communicated with ODOT to let them know of this allegation,” said Kelly Madding, county development services director.

Mountain View Estates had permission from ODOT for the work, but was to ensure that required permits were secured, said agency spokesman Gary Leaming.

Madding said it appears an error was made in declaring the land was in the city rather than under county jurisdiction. City of Talent, state and federal agencies approved the work, designed to shore up a crumbling bank.

“It’s not as if the work was done and no permits were applied for,” Madding said.

Mountain View Estates is among parties contesting the legality of Mountain View Paving’s asphalt batch plant located across Bear Creek from the retirement community. Those challenging the plant’s location have alleged that the paving firm’s site modifications might increase flood potential in the area.

At this point it hasn't been determined whether the 2006 work would increase potential for flooding of adjacent properties.

Mountain View Paving attorney Dan O’Connor brought the situation to the county’s attention after a hydraulic engineer studied the area to determine whether the asphalt plant complied with floodplain or floodway regulations.

“On our property, we consulted with a hydrologist that is respected by (the Federal Emergency Management Agency),” said O’Connor. “(Plant opponents) issued a big report from an engineer saying our floodplain analysis was wrong. We investigated. We found out there may be some basis because they (Mountain View Estates) dumped material in the floodway. They accused us of being underhanded, but it was because of stuff they had done.”

In a letter copied to the county, O’Connor alleges the work was not in compliance with the federal Endangered Species Act and that the fill and riprap increase potential flood hazard to neighbors.

A Conditional Letter of Map Revision from FEMA is required to sort out issues, said O’Connor. He said Mountain View Paving would be willing to participate in a joint process for getting the conditional letter with other parties, including Rogue Advocates, which has contested the presence of the plant.

Mountain View Estates in 2006 obtained a joint permit from the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and the Department of State Lands for in-channel work. City of Talent issued an affidavit that the work was consistent with its land-use regulations and comprehensive plan.

Application for the project was prepared by licensed engineer William F. Galli of the Galli Group, Grants Pass, which performed the work. The project was done to prevent bank erosion threatening several homes in the park.

“We had permission from ODOT,” said Mountain View Estates owner Chris Hudson. “There was permission from everybody. Everybody was double- and triple-checking everybody. As far as I know, our engineer and everyone did everything as correctly as possible.”

ODOT is in the preliminary stages of investigating the situation, said Leaming. The agency just received notification this week.

“We are just starting the conversations with the stakeholders involved,” said Leaming. “We don’t know exactly where this is going to land.”

Madding said Jackson County would first determine that the work actually was done on ODOT property and then develop a timeline for compliance. She said the county deals with the property owners involved in enforcement issues, rather than with parties that may have committed the act.

ODOT would need to apply for a floodplain development permit if the land is under county jurisdiction. If the work is determined to be in the floodway, a more extensive permit process would be required, said Madding.

Tony Boom is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.