Members of the Wallowa County Planning Commission expressed displeasure with the county's Public Works Department last Tuesday for not complying with conditions placed on the county's asphalt plant in November of 2000. The matter came up when Public Works Director Russ McMartin was asking the planning commission to extend rock crushing and asphalt production hours at the plant.
Planning director Bill Oliver and Planning Commission chairman Rick Hanson toured the asphalt plant prior to last Tuesday's evening meeting, taking photographs of discrepancies between what the planning commission had requested done in 2000 and the existing site.
Major shortcomings were that a gate had not been installed to prevent public access to the asphalt plant site located five miles north of Enterprise, and that the equipment had not been painted to blend in with the natural landscape.
The commission approved the requests made by McMartin, but said no work can be done this year until the year 2000 conditions and some new conditions are adhered to. The increase of berm heights and shields for nighttime lighting were the latest requests made by the commission.
Until Tuesday's decision, rock crushing was only allowed 12 hours in a day. Once the conditions are met that limit will be increased to a full 24 hours a day. The public works department only has $75,000 budgeted for rock crushing, and it is more economical to crush the rock around the clock.
Though still limited by the Department of Environmental Quality's edict that the asphalt plant can only operate 64 days in a given year, permission granted Tuesday will allow public works to operate the plant outside of the June through October window it had previously been limited to.
McMartin has been in his position less than two years and was unaware of the 2000 conditions placed on the asphalt plant. He informed the plannsrs that he would quickly get his crew to work on the improvements.