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Parvin Butte Dispute

Parvin Butte. Photo by Pete Helzer.
Parvin Butte. Photo by Pete Helzer.

Parvin Butte is still standing. Shorn of most of its trees and blasted by heavy equipment, the Dexter landmark lingers in the background as summer visitors play on Dexter Lake. The Dexter/Lost Valley neighbors are still fighting to save the butte from McDougal brothers and developer Greg Demers, whose company Lost Creek Rock Products (LCRP), has been decimating it. The latest skirmish took place in front of Lane County Hearings Official Gary Darnielle on July 12.

Parvin Butte neighbors came to testify before Darnielle on a site review of LCRP’s quarry and mining-related activities within a 200-foot setback area surrounding the quarry operation. LCRP has argued site review isn’t needed at all. Site review allows neighbors input on troubling aspects of a quarry mine, like pollution, traffic and noise.

Attorney for the neighbors Dan Stotter says there is a key difference between what triggers a site review — the gravel trucks going through the setback — and the scope of the site review, which would deal with the quarry mining itself and its explosions and heavy equipment that affect neighbors. It’s like the difference between an invitation to dinner, he says, and what you have for dinner.

Large animal vet Jeff Pelton testified on the effects the blasting would have on animals from sheep to horses that are the source of income for many in the Parvin Butte area. “In a nutshell, I demanded that they should show it is safe for livestock before they let them reduce Parvin Butte to rubble,” Pelton says.

A source of contention at the hearing was that LCRP earlier applied for, and was granted, a bridge permit to access the site. The quarry argued that access to Parvin by way of Rattlesnake and Schafler roads was terrible and another route via a new bridge was needed, Stotter says. But now in the site review application the gravel miners are arguing to use the Rattlesnake Road route, without withdrawing their bridge permit.

Neighbor Jim Babson argued in his testimony that LCRP might not have right-of-way access to all of Schafler Road and has requested the gravel miners produce deeds showing they indeed have right-of-way access for this plan.

Other testimony was more emotional. Neighbor Arlen Markus says some neighbors were in tears at the hearing as they spoke of how 136 trucks a day, from 7 am to 6 pm, six days a week would affect their rural community: heavy traffic going through nearby Pleasant Hill and its schools, problems blasting will cause a veterans’ home on Rattlesnake Road that houses vets with traumatic issues from wartime experiences and the damages dust produced by the quarry will cause a nearby organic farm.

Stotter says Rattlesnake itself has blind corners and other unsafe driving conditions for large commercial gravel trucks. 

The attorney says people can submit comments on the issue to the county until July 26. A decision from Darnielle is expected by mid-August, but Stotter suspects attorneys for LCRP will let a 120-day clock on this issue run out, so they can take the case to circuit court, rather than the normal route after a decision is made by the county for it to go the Land Use Board of Appeals. 

Stotter says quarry attorney Bill Kloos’ office is not willing to stipulate any additional time. Forty-five days have already passed. Darnielle has said he will make his decision within week of the August 9 final rebuttal by the applicant, but after that the Lane County Board of Commissioners would weigh in. The board, which is currently led by a conservative majority, “could take longer than needed intentionally so as to duck the issue politically and send it to court,” Stotter says.