After several quiet years, activity has begun again in the ongoing effort to prevent Baker Rock Industries from converting a 225-acre field of prime farmland into a gravel quarry at the south end of Grand Island.
After large-scale public input and protest, in 2011, the Yamhill County Commissioners voted to approve the zoning change from agriculture to extraction. Since then, Baker Rock has been working on their permit process with the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI).
Protect Grand Island Farms (PGIF), a non-profit composed of island farmers and residents, has continued to follow the permit process during these intervening years even though DOGAMI does not officially invite public comment on this process.
In early fall of this year, Baker Rock applied to Yamhill County for a flood plain permit for their possible future quarry. PGIF members filed a request for a hearing on this permit.
On November 3, PGIF members and many Grand Island residents and friends went before the Planning Commission to oppose the pending flood plain permit. Dozens of people testified, providing arguments that the proposed quarry would not meet the necessary criteria for a flood plain permit and would have negative impacts on surrounding properties.
On December 1, the Planning Commission met again to vote. Every voting member present expressed that they shared PGIF’s concerns about the proposed quarry and flood waters. However, because of the very particular nature of the county statutes, a majority felt that they needed to vote to approve the flood plain permit at this time. One said he did so, “holding his nose.”
PGIF is now contesting this decision, which will take the flood plain permit before the Yamhill County Commissioners in early 2017.
At this time, people who want to support this ongoing effort can help by:
- Attending the to-be-scheduled County Commissioner meeting to show support
- Making a tax-deductible donation to PGIF to help pay for legal and expert costs. Checks can be made to “Protect Grand Island Farms” and mailed to P.O. Box 1698, McMinnville OR 97128.
Watch for more updates about the upcoming Commissioner meeting in early 2017!