As a budding new attorney I have been anxiously awaiting the day that I would file my first lawsuit, signed at the bottom, with my name and yet unused bar number. Well, that day has arrived. Today I filed an appeal before the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals (LUBA) representing Rogue Advocates in an ongoing challenge to halt the operation of an asphalt batch plant on the banks of Bear Creek near the City of Talent, Oregon.
I couldn’t help but feel a bit of nostalgia as I prepared to file the notice of appeal before LUBA. It seems like just yesterday that I was a law student intern working with Crag attorneys Courtney Johnson and Ralph Bloemers to prepare for my first-ever oral argument before LUBA. Now I am working directly with our clients to address their concerns, with the continued support of the Crag attorneys, of course.
This appeal comes after a confusing sequence of events following our last update on the Mt. View Paving asphalt batch plant. Although the Jackson County Hearings Officer issued decisions denying the recognition of the asphalt plant as a valid grandfathered use and dismissed the application for a floodplain permit, the scope and effect of those decisions was unclear. Rogue Advocates appealed those decisions to LUBA seeking clarification as to how the decisions affect the status and continued operation of the asphalt batch plant.
Despite the pending appeals at LUBA, Jackson County and Mt. View Paving moved forward with an agreement for continued operation of the asphalt batch plant. The County then approved a new application for a floodplain development permit. All this was done behind closed doors without an opportunity for the public to submit comments or testimony. The appeal filed today challenges the exclusion of the public from the County’s decision making process.
It is important for clients like Rogue Advocates and other concerned citizens to have an opportunity to be heard on decisions that will ultimately affect the land, air and water in their communities. We will continue to work with Rogue Advocates to ensure that its members are afforded their right to participate in this land use decision that will likely affect their health and well-being for years to come.