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Clackamas County approves controversial Tonquin Road quarry

Opponents of the site will wait to see whether theyll appeal the decision


The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners has approved with conditions the construction of a controversial rock quarry planned off of Morgan and Tonquin Roads.

On Thursday, the board unanimously gave the go-ahead to create a quarry on a 35-acre site located one-half mile up Morgan Road off of Tonquin Road in rural Sherwood.

As part of its approval, Tonquin Holdings LLC, owners of the property, must meet 114 conditions of approval set by county staff and five proposed by the applicant, said Commission Chairman John Ludlow.by: RAY PITZ - Jos Jacobs, a landowner along Morgan Road whose property is near the border of the proposed quarry property, poses earlier with his dog and a couple of goats. Jacobs said he'll wait for the county's written decision to see if he and others will appeal the decision.

In addition, the board added two other conditions – that the quarry owners must dig a new well for any property owner who experiences a 20 percent or more failure of their water system. Also, county staff will return to the commission with a plan to require regular street sweeping of portions of Tonquin Road where the quarry trucks will travel as well as requiring those vehicles to clean tires of dirt and mud before leaving the site.

Both Ludlow and Commissioner Tootie Smith said they recently toured the proposed quarry site, which is known as the Poole quarry.

Ludlow said he was interested in the claims that 450 new trips a day would be added to Tonquin Road by the quarry, pointing out that more than 6,000 vehicles a day use Tonquin Road in part as a shortcut to get from Oregon Street to Graham’s Ferry Road.

Still, Commissioner Paul Savas said he was stunned by the amount of truck traffic along Tonquin Road.

In approving the resolution, Smith said the quarry would benefit the local economy and would help keep quarry rock prices low.

“I think this is a known area for basalt rock,” said Smith.

The road is already the site of numerous quarries that mine a type of rock that is coveted for creating state roadbeds.

After the hearing, Jos Jacobs, a landowner along Morgan Road whose property is near the border of the proposed quarry property, said he was disappointed and “absolutely surprised” by the commissioners’ decision. He said it seemed like the commission ignored written comments as well as a petition signed by 1,200 people opposing the quarry. He also said he believed opponents had effectively demonstrated that another local quarry was producing 10 times as much rock as the proposed quarry would, making a new site unnecessary. The Tualatin River National Wildlife Refuge had also expressed concerns about the fact the quarry will butt up next to land they own.

Lee Patrick, who said the quarry would operate 75 feet from his property line, said he was disappointed with the commission’s decision as well.

“They addressed none of our personal concerns,” said Patrick. “All they worried about is road cleanliness, traffic. How incompetent are they?”

Three years ago, Jacobs spearheaded a similar push to keep the quarry from coming in. Like now, he and adjacent property owners cited concerns about the quarry’s impact on their wells, as well as noise from blasting rock five days a week, dust, and increased traffic as reasons for denial.

Back then, Clackamas County planners recommended denial of the project, however a hearing officer gave a green light to the venture in February 2011 if quarry owners could meet 38 conditions. It ultimately ended up in the Oregon Land Use of Board of Appeals, and later the Oregon Court of Appeals, which ruled in favor of the opponents in denying the quarry application.

However, this time Tonquin Holdings owners returned to the county with a zone change.

For now, Jacobs said he and other opponents would wait for the county’s written decision and see if there are any grounds to appeal the approval.



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