Mail Tribune Photo / Jamie Lusch

Pot operation fined $500 for lack of floodplain permit

APPLEGATE — A company developing property on North Applegate Road for a marijuana growing operation has been fined $500 for failing to obtain a floodplain development permit from Jackson County and has been ordered to submit an application for the ground work.

Medford lawyer Mark Bartholomew, agent for 15877 North Applegate Road LLC, admitted the company had failed to get the required permit at a hearing held before Jackson County Hearings Officer Roger Pearce. The maximum fine of $1,000 was levied, but $500 will be suspended if the firm submits an application within 60 days and obtains approval for work in 120 days.

“We are diligently working on compliance,” said Bartholomew. An application for the work should be submitted in the near future, he said.

Jackson County investigated work on four parcels owned by the company at 15877 North Applegate Road that include a marijuana grow. On the parcel next to the Applegate River there was grading work on a levee, stockpiling of materials and creation of a new pond that prompted the citation, Development Services Director Ted Zuk has said.

Remedial actions for the work will be part of the application, said Zuk. Affected agencies that have jurisdiction over such matters will have a chance to comment on the application, he said.

Neighbors had raised concerns with the county over the extent of development. Permits had been obtained for marijuana growing structures, electrical and mechanical work and other improvements. Apart from the floodplain issue, no other violations were found, Zuk said.

“If somebody does not comply with a hearings officer order in the time specified it can become a continuing violation,” said Zuk. “They carry a maximum fine of up to $10,000 for the first continuing violation and $20,000 for each successive violation after that.”

Jackson County Code Enforcement Officer Alicia Brown issued the citation in April “for removal and addition of fill” after investigating complaints from property owners in the area.

Nearby neighbor Michele Brown-Riding was one of the people who filed a complaint with the county that the work might be violating land development ordinances.

“It seems minimal to what looks like is going on,” Brown-Riding said of the fine and order. “I’m grateful for the county action. I guess we’ll just wait and see what happens in the future now.”

Brown-Riding and her neighbors have been surprised by the size of the development, which they feel is inappropriate for land zoned for exclusive farm uses.

“Work seems to have slowed down,” said Brown-Riding. Moving of aggregate off the land by the river to other areas appears to have stopped, although another section of road was created recently, she said.

Matt Ropp Land Use Consulting, formerly located in Medford but now in Philomath, is working on the project, said Bartholomew. The firm specializes in farm, forest and aggregate land-use permitting and development consulting, according to its website.

Internet postings show a Stargazer Estates vineyard on the site a couple of years ago. Jackson County stopped development of a gravel pit on the land next to the river a decade ago when it was under different ownership. A county hearings officer ruled traffic and floodplain studies for that project were not adequate.

Reach Ashland freelance writer Tony Boom at tboomwriter@gmail.com.

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