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Neighbors raise concerns about Applegate work

Jackson County officials have received complaints about work being done on North Applegate Road that some residents think may violate the land’s exclusive farm use zoning.

Work on property, owned by 15877 North Applegate Road LLC, has included removal of aggregate, road construction and installation of electrical infrastructure. Permits have been issued by Jackson County to the LLC for construction of buildings for marijuana production.

“The Applegate Valley is so beautiful, and we want to have the land used properly,” said Michele Brown-Riding, who lives near the site.

Property owned by the limited liability corporation includes four tax lots bordering North Applegate Road on the river and the uphill side of the land. A marijuana growing operation and a vineyard are located on the land. A decade ago, an effort to mine aggregate near the river was denied by Jackson County.

“I’m also concerned about the infrastructure, the electrical that has been installed across the road on the upside side of North Applegate,” said Brown-Riding. “There’s a lot of electrical. I don’t understand what that is for.”

A thin buffer of Bureau of Land Management land separates Judy Crowe from the development.

“There’s absolutely tons of gravel that has been dug out along the Applegate River,” said Crowe. “A lot of that has been used to cover a lot of the roads they cut on both sides of (North Applegate Road). There are piles all over the land.”

North Applegate Road has been torn up several times to accommodate the work, said Crowe. Barriers have been placed on both sides of the road, she said. The road is narrow, and increased traffic decreases its safety, said Crowe. She said at least 10 people she knows have filed complaints with Jackson County Development Services over potential code violations.

“Basically I think they have gone way beyond what the few permits they had obtained were intended for,” said Crowe.

Jackson County has acknowledged receipt of a complaint about the property. In an email sent last week, Development Services Director Ted Zuk said he could not comment further on an investigation sparked by the complaint while it is ongoing. He did not return phone calls placed this week.

Owner of the four properties is listed on Jackson County property tax records as 15877 North Applegate Road LLC. Tax bills are sent to an address at a UPS store in Fremont, California. Active business listings for limited liability corporations in Oregon do not show information for the entity.

An online listing on everywine.com shows a vineyard called Stargazer Estates at the 15877 N. Applegate Road address. The everywine listing said there was not enough evidence to rate the vineyard.

Jackson County records show that a permit was issued to the LLC for construction of a 6,912-square-foot marijuana production greenhouse in December. In January, additional permits were issued for structures of 26-by-140 feet and 78-by-16 feet for marijuana production. Permits allowed electrical and mechanical improvements in the structures. Happy Healing Farms LLC had made an application to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission for marijuana production on one of the parcels.

A decade ago, winery owners and neighbors prevailed in an appeal to stop development of a gravel pit at the site. In 2005, owners of the then-Krouse Ranch filed a Measure 37 claim to clear land-use restrictions on the ranch. A year later Copeland Sand and Gravel proposed a 20-acre pit operation to remove more than 500,000 tons of rock. A Jackson County hearings officer found that neither floodplain nor traffic studies for the proposed aggregate mine were adequate and denied an application.

“I’ve been down this road before. It wasn’t pleasant,” said Brown-Riding, who fought the aggregate operation.

— Tony Boom is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at tboomwriter@gmail.com.