'I hope other states don't do this ...'

  • Renee Ross

    Greg Wahl-Stephens

Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story, "Taking Liberties."

Renee Ross and her husband, Bryan, live on 32 acres near Molalla, southeast of Portland. It’s hilly, with woods and pasture, and spring-fed Teasel Creek flows through it. She also thought Measure 37 was a good idea. Now, two of her neighbors have filed Measure 37 claims: One wants to build 10 houses on 60 acres, and the other wants to dig a gravel mine on 80 acres. Handcuffed by Measure 37, the Clackamas County government OK’d both claims. Ross and 46 other neighbors signed a petition asking the county to deny the mining claim. Now she’s trying to persuade the state geology agency to declare it an unsafe land use. But the state agency, she says, is "not in the habit of saying ‘no’ to anyone who wants to have a rock mine, once it’s approved at the county level."

Renee Ross: "Our atmosphere here now is totally peaceful — the birds, the creek rambling through our property. When they start up (the gravel mine), it’ll be within 200 feet of our house. They’ll be doing blasting, and they’ll run a rock-crushing machine. They can operate from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. It’ll also be trucks backing up, the beep-beep-beep, all day long, because they have to back up to the gravel pile. We live in a little valley, so the sound will echo. We’re just devastated. … It’s happening all over Oregon. We went to the hearing (of the county planning agency) and we had to sit through 15 or 20 (other applicants presenting Measure 37 claims), and every single one had neighbors who were in an uproar about ruining their quality of life. … I hope other states don’t do this. We went from having a very strict land-use policy to having no policy. We don’t have any rights at all. It leaves us no say in the types of surroundings we live in, the undesirable businesses that can be put in right next to our property. … I don’t mind if you do whatever you want on your land, as long as it doesn’t hurt someone else’s life."

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