County planners to take public comment at hearing Tuesday
SODAVILLE — The Linn County Planning Commission will take public comment Tuesday on a request to expand a rock quarry operation in Sodaville.
The request, filed by Thomas and Debra Harrington of Harrington Rock Products in Sodaville, is for an amendment to the comprehensive plan that doesn’t change the underlying zone but would apply an “aggregate resource overlay” on top.
If approved in January by the Linn County Board of Commissioners, the quarry at 38325 Harrington Drive would expand north from about 15 acres to 120.8 acres. It also would allow asphalt batching and would be named as a significant aggregate resource site under Goal 5 of the state’s Department of Land Conservation and Development rules.
The Harringtons could not immediately be reached for comment, but according to the Linn County Planning Department, the site was used as a rock quarry even before their original conditional use permit, which dates to the 1980s.
The last expansion was in 1999, and did not include asphalt batching. The company did do an asphalt job to overlay a section of Highway 20 in 2006, but did not have a conditional permit at the time to do so, said Olivia Glantz, associate planner.
The asphalt potential concerns a couple of the Harringtons’ neighbors, who say they have no problem with the quarry operations currently but are wary of expansion.
“I don’t begrudge him his business. He’s been a good neighbor,” said William Carter, who lives just south of the current business.
However, Carter said he remembers the 2006 asphalt project and isn’t looking forward to more.
“We had several days that were pretty noxious around here from the fumes from the batching plant,” he said. “I don’t know if he has any plans of doing that on a regular basis, but if that became a regular thing, I would not be pleased.”
Another neighbor, who asked that his name not be used, said he’s concerned about future property values if the asphalt process becomes a mainstay of the business, particularly if it’s someday sold to someone else.
“The present owner is a really good and decent man, and he’s been really sensitive to the impact of the quarry on people who live here,” the neighbor said. “The worry is a major player would buy the quarry because of the amended permit and put in a full-size batching plant with asphalt, and turn the area into an industrial site, even though the current owner has no intention of doing that.”
The neighbor said he looked up the quarry permit before moving to Sodaville and wouldn’t have made a property purchase had asphalt batching been permitted. Odors, particulate matter and a spike in heavy truck traffic are his main concerns.
But other neighbors said they didn’t think Harrington’s request would affect them and they believe it should be approved.
“There is traffic from it — there’s always been traffic — but it’s not been a problem for me,” said Mark Curtiss, who is west of the current plant. “When they resurfaced Highway 20 in the past, they did asphalt, and I never noticed a thing.”
George Miller, on the east side, said he’s not concerned his quality of life will be affected.
“The guy’s gotta make a living,” he said. “Everything we do is probably going to hurt somebody.”
Sand Ridge Charter School has a campus with 208 students in fourth through 10th grades well to the north of the site, although just within the 1,500-foot impact area.
Mary Northern, the school’s founder and director of operations, said she didn’t think the proximity would be close enough to experience problems.
“There might be more trucks, but we’re fenced in there,” she said. “I don’t think we’re planning on weighing in.”