Aggregate in the form of sand, gravel and crushed rock, is used to construct roads, foundations, buildings and many other structures. The materials for aggregate come from quarries on private and public land. State statutes and rules set the criteria for issuing local land use permits for aggregate sites. These criteria seek to minimize the impacts of aggregate mining on the environment and on neighbors. They are also designed so that a supply of aggregate material is available to serve the needs of Oregonians.
Aggregate and Goal 5
Aggregate is one of several natural resources addressed under Statewide Planning Goal 5, and more specifically in OAR 660-023-0180. This rule specifies a review and permitting process for cities and counties to follow. It describes standards and procedures to:
- Identify significant resource sites;
- Mitigate impacts from mining operations on existing uses in the vicinity of the mine; and
- Implement a decision to allow mining.
The rule allows for protection of large, significant aggregate sites. Protection means that the local comprehensive plan and code supports long-term mining operations on the site. Protection is achieved by placing conditions on new residential and business development that occurs near the aggregate mining operation. The conditions specify that new businesses and residences accept the mining activities authorized by the local government.
Local Review of an Aggregate Mining Application
OAR 660-23-0180 lays out a four-step process for local review of an application for a new or expanding aggregate mine. The rule is concerned with the protection of large significant aggregate sites and any mining of aggregate on farmland. Some counties have incorporated these process steps and standards into their local comprehensive plans and zoning codes. Other counties apply the rule directly through the application review process.
Step 2: Decide whether to authorize mining.
Large Significant Sites
The potential impact of mining activities (excavation, processing, hauling) on existing and permitted uses are identified using standards and considerations described in OAR 660-023-0180(5). The rule limits the evaluation of these impacts to: noise sensitive uses; local roads; other Goal 5 resources; and agricultural practices. Noise sensitive uses include residences, churches and schools. The rule describes how the impact area for this analysis is determined. The default impact area extends 1,500 feet from the proposed mine boundary, and can be extended if factual information indicates the potential for impacts further from the mine.
Measures to minimize conflicts are identified. Noise barriers, dust suppression, and traffic management practices are examples of measures used to minimize potential impacts. (Such measures are included as conditions of approval in Step 4.)
Aggregate mining must be allowed when conflicts can be reasonably minimized. Standard practices for dust suppression, noise dampening, and traffic management are generally adequate to minimize the most common impacts of aggregate mining. Potential impacts to groundwater and surface water are addressed through state laws and permitting requirements administered by DEQ and DOGAMI. Additional local review may be needed when questions arise about the supporting evidence for potential offsite impacts.
When identified impacts on existing and permitted uses cannot be minimized, local governments must analyze the consequences of allowing, not allowing, or limiting mining. This analysis is called an "ESEE analysis", because it must consider the economic, social, environmental and energy consequences of the decision. A decision to fully allow, partially allow, or deny a proposed aggregate quarry must be supported by the ESEE analysis.
Small Sites on Farmland
Local governments can allow mining on small sites in EFU zones with a conditional use permit. However, the site must be on an inventory of significant aggregate site See (OAR 660-23-0180 (4)).
Step 3: Protect large significant sites, for which mining has been authorized, from new uses.
When a decision to allow mining on a large significant has been made, a separate ESEE analysis is needed. For this step, the analysis looks at how new development might conflict with the approved mining operation. The ESEE analysis is limited to the impact area identified in Step 2. It forms the basis for a decision to allow, limit, or prohibit potential conflicting uses that are otherwise allowed by the zoning code. If zoning allows uses that would be sensitive to the noise or traffic generated by a quarry, a local jurisdiction may find that limiting these potential new uses is the best policy decision. The limit is generally implemented via a requirement placed on applicants for new development permits in the impact area. Applicants are asked to acknowledge the new use will be located close to an authorized mining activity and agree to not file complaints for impacts that result from activities consistent with that authorization.
This step is applied only to aggregate sites that have been added to the inventory of significant sites consistent with OAR 660-023-0180(3) and approved for mining consistent with OAR 660-023-0180(5) or reviewed under local codes recognized by OAR 660-023-0180(9). All other sites are not eligible for Goal 5 protection.
Step 4: Implement a local decision to allow mining.
When local governments approve a mining operation on a large significant site, both the comprehensive plan and local ordinances must be amended to reflect the decision. (OAR 660-023-0050). Conditions paced on the mining operation must be described with clear and objective standards. Local governments must also establish the post-mining use of the site.
After the Application is Locally Approved
Four state agencies regulate the development and operation of aggregate mining and processing projects in Oregon. The role that each plays depends on the scale, design, and associated impacts.
The primary agencies and their specialty areas are: