County commission OKs quarry expansion

Sean C. Morgan

On remand by the state Land Use Board of Appeals, the Linn County Board of Commissioners on June 13 upheld its April 2011 approval of the expansion of the Weber Quarry, located off Berlin Road and operated by Liberty Rock Products.

Kenneth and Renaye Carol Weber were seeking a four-acre expansion of the quarry’s operation area by designating in a Comprehensive Plan amendment the new acreage as a significant aggregate resource, a move opposed by several residents in the area, who claim that blasting at the quarry has damaged their wells and homes over the years. Liberty Rock Products is owned by Cal and Roger Emmert.

Commissioners John Lindsey and Will Tucker voted to approve the application.

The decision imposed National Fire Protection Association standards for blasting, said Chairman Roger Nyquist, who was absent. The 2011 approval retained the customized set of standards that had been in use at the quarry. Nyquist voted in favor of the application last year.

Last year’s decision was appealed by neighbors to the Land Use Board of Appeals, which remanded it to the Board of Commissioners. Weber asked for a voluntary remand prior to a LUBA hearing.

The standards were in contention last year during public hearings on the quarry. The proponents argued that the national standards, which allow larger charges, would actually break the rock away from the quarry better, releasing more energy into the air and decreasing the impact of blasting.

The quarry has existed since 1940, predating the uses around it, according to the applicants’ attorney, Myles Coway, during last year’s hearings. Of 84.11 acres, 33 have been used as a quarry. The new designation will allow the use of 37.1 acres.

The quarry’s conditional use permit was issued in 1981. It was modified in 1997.

The commissioners will vote again after staff prepares a resolution and findings.