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Folsom Road blues

Eagle Creek Neighborhood Association promises to fight gravel quarry developer

Tensions ran high as the crowd filled the Flora Community Room to capacity Thursday, Jan. 10 for a meeting of the Eagle Creek-Barton Community Planning Organization (CPO) and Jensen Development, LLC of Salem. Many members of the Eagle Creek Neighborhood Association (ECNA) were also present.

Don Jensen purchased 25 acres on Judd Road last spring as an easement into American Sand and Gravel. However, he says that after due diligence he found American Sand and Gravel to be defunct. In an effort to recoup his loss, he says, he decided to build a quarry on his land instead.

Jensen is in the process of submitting an application to Clackamas County that will allow excavation for the next five years. After mining is complete, he says, he will fill in the pit using topsoil and then plant Christmas trees. He is also interested in expanding his endeavors further by leasing 82 acres on Folsom Road in Eagle Creek.

Judd Road runs along the ridge parallel to Highway 224 between Amissegger Road and Highway 211.

Jensen addressed concerns regarding noise, traffic, erosion, water and well quality, dust, and wetland protection, as well as mud and damage to Judd Road.

'I want to be a good neighbor,' Jensen said. 'I'm proud of the work I've done [in the past at Keizer Station]. We work in a lot of different jurisdictions, and there is no way we're coming in…to take advantage of a small area. We have a long reputation of going to areas and doing a good job for people.'

Jensen also said his company would be present to correct problems with the erosion on the site since the last owner logged the area.

Jensen said that he plans to preserve good relations with what appears to be a very active, concerned group of citizens so that he will have a better chance of going forward with his plans on Folsom Road. He considers his work on Judd Road to be an improvement.

The Judd Road project could take up to five years, during which time residents could expect to live with 10-12 trucks and heavy equipment per hour.

Tom Sparks, president of Eagle Creek Neighborhood Association received applause from the audience after he said, 'All of us who are interconnected to the Folsom Road area are very sensitive to your plan. We've listened the majority of this evening to our neighbors up on Judd Road who have experienced years and years of disruption to their lives. They've already suffered the loss of a very pristine area. Now we hear the plan for Folsom Road…

'Everyone has the right to make money. That's part of the glory of the United States. We don't want to stand in your way of accomplishing that. Except when it enters into destroying the pristine environment that each of us moved out here for. Folsom Road is just exactly that. Most of us moved out here with the view of coming out of the city and coming into a very quiet, beautiful agricultural area. The very plan that you mentioned…is the very heartache of individuals around Judd Road.

'I think I can represent at least a measure of the folks here today when I say that we intend to make your plan extremely challenging. We will do anything to prevent what is happening on Judd Road from happening on Folsom Road. We plan to oppose this very vigorously. We will coordinate hiring attorneys, geological reports, bringing to bear all the scientific studies. We hope you will not pursue the Folsom Road property.'

Many people in attendance also voiced concerns regarding property damage and real estate devaluation.

Frank George, also of Eagle Creek, addressed the issue of real estate values.

'I live next door to a really good neighbor, River City Rock. Despite every effort that they have made, the location of their business has caused us to have to re-drill six wells in our area, tons of traffic on the street, mud, debris, noise. The designated time of operations were respected…The basic rules have been followed but the goal to achieve as much money as possible has taken over there. Our water table dropped, we have silt run-off in our kitchen [tapwater], which means Eagle Creek and the river… I am a real estate appraiser and it does negatively impact the value of our property… I just want to provide this information for your consideration.

'There is nothing you can say from any sort of a real estate stand point, that says 'There's nothing else to do with this land besides remove all [overburden of clay].' and 'I'm not making much money, I'm just doing this because I have to.' It's a total lie. You're lying to us.'

Meg Wiesheier, vice president of the CPO and a member of the ECNA said, 'My biggest concern is the wetland-the nine acres where you're going to dump all that [clay]. I took a look over there and it looks like a good part of that is wetland. I know you said you had a geo-technical survey but have the DSL [Department of State Lands] and Army Corps of Engineers looked at it? Where are you going to dump all that without it falling down into the wetland?'

Wiesheier also voiced her concern that even if Jensen's application is approved and zoning conditions are specified, there may be problems ahead for the neighbors and community.

'After all the broken promises…you say, 'We have all these conditions and this and that.' Well, that's what happened down at Big Valley,' Wiesheier said. 'They put conditions on that…and afterward they wouldn't even build a fence for Bob around his property; he's got people trashing it out all the time…stealing…all kinds of things going on down there.

'The county doesn't do anything. They don't care. It's going to have to be an awfully big bond. Look what happened with American Sand and Gravel. That bond didn't do crap to fix all that property up.

'You said you 'just want to make a little bit [of money].' That's exactly what they said when they went into American Sand and Gravel, 'Oh, I bought this piece and now it's just a terrible piece of land and now I can't do anything with it, and poor, poor me.' When you bought that piece, you knew what it was. You knew what condition it was in. There is a reason you bought it. You plan on making some kind of money off of it.'

When asked what he thought the Eagle Creek Neighborhood Association's chances of success were, Rick Mudrow, who is president of the CPO said, 'I think it will be a battle and Jensen could end up spending millions of dollars.'

For more information contact Tom Sparks of the Eagle Creek Neighborhood Association at ecna2008@ gmail.com. The Eagle Creek-Barton Community Planning Organization meets the second Thursday of every month.