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Gravel mining plans alarm CRR


   The Jefferson County Community Development Department has accepted an application for a conditional use permit to allow a mining operation near Osborne Canyon in close proximity to Crooked River Ranch and the Crooked River Wild and Scenic Corridor.
   Numerous letters from residents at the Ranch, state and federal agencies, and local businesses expressing opposition to the mining operation have been received at the Community Development Department.
   The 40-acre parcel cited in the application is located at the west end of Park Lane, tax lot 104. The property is owned by Daniel and Lavera Jeter of Culver.
   The request for a conditional use permit to allow the mining operation was made by Wayne Richards of Platt Resources LLC. Frank Platt of Platt Resources LLC is owner of Red Cloud Specialty Contractors Inc. which specializes in sand and gravel.
   In a Dec. 15 letter signed by Richards, he outlined the project logistics. The letter reads that a crushing and stockpiling operation will be located near the west property line. The excavation will start on the lower level in the canyon and go into the hill with a slight downslope. The operation will require a rock crusher, dozer, loader, and use of a blade in the extraction of pit run, specification gravel and reject material. The property would have to be fenced. Richards claimed that approximately eight truck loads per day were to be removed by way of Park Lane and that Park Lane has been constructed to accommodate this type of traffic. Approximately 40,000 cubic yards of material will be removed a year and, "blasting will be done occasionally," explained Richards.
   Any topsoil excavated from the site will be salvaged and replaced with grass seed when the operation is complete according to Richards. The site could yield 30 years worth of production, hopes Richards in the Dec. 15 letter.
   In an interview with The Pioneer, Richards said that operation could employ up to three workers and that the worth of the project is, "way past six digits."
   Richards said, "A lot of our work is starting to come from that direction (Jefferson County) and it seems like there's a need and an interest in a new rock source."
   This site, near Osborne Canyon, has been a point of interest for gravel in the past. According to Jeter, owner of the property, Jefferson County officials approached him in 1991 about a gravel production operation on the same site. Chris Gannon, Community Development Department director for Jefferson County, explained that the last time the permit was applied for, it was denied because of a technical detail.
   Jefferson County Commissioner Mary Zemke said, "We're pretty good on gravel," and that due to the approval of a gravel producing site near Gateway, she wasn't sure that the county was any longer in immediate need of the material.
   Then in 2001, according to Jeter, Oregon Department of Transportation surveyed 16 proposed sites and narrowed it down to the Jeters property which scored 98 out of 100 points in a test for criteria. ODOT explained to him that the whole project had to be placed on hiatus due to public opposition.
   This time, Gannon believes that it is likely the application process will be smoother and that the Platts, "are going to continue forward."
   Of the Platts, Richards said, "The way they run their business, I know darn well that it would be an asset to Jefferson County. There's no doubt about that."
   The Jefferson County Planning Commission has scheduled a public hearing concerning the permit, at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 27 in the Jefferson County Courthouse Annex.