August 2008 – State & Province News
A federal jury ordered Greenwood to pay Martin Marietta Materials damages for interfering with truck traffic on city streets. A report on www.kansascity.com indicates that U.S. District Judge Dean Whipple had issued an injunction to prevent the city from enforcing an ordinance outlawing heavy trucks on South Second Street. The company testified that the route was the most practical way for traffic to travel between its site and Missouri 291. Whipple presided over a jury trial where Martin Marietta sued the city for breach of contract. The jury awarded it more than $30,000 for the breach of contract and $438,006.24 for the city’s violation of the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. In March, a jury in the Jackson County Circuit Court awarded Greenwood $11.9 million from the quarry for compensation and punitive damages from the trucks. Martin Marietta is appealing that judgment.
The state’s permitting process has received considerable coverage and notoriety following the release of a performance audit conducted by the state auditor who investigated the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) at the request of the Legislative Audit Committee. According to the Great Falls Tribune, DEQ Director Richard Opper told the committee that he accepts responsibility for flaws in the state’s gravel permitting process. In May, several District Court rulings forced the agency to issue mining permits without the necessary environmental reviews because the agency took too long to process the applications. One highlight from the performance audit was the DEQ’s failure to collect a tax intended to be a key source of funding for the program. Opper promised to implement the audit’s recommendations for improving efficiency within a year, but also said the agency needs to employ additional staff and adjust timelines for environmental reviews to allow for public comment.
At Aggregates Manager press time, Bernards Township was considering a vote to approve an ordinance prohibiting quarry operators from importing soil for use in reclamation plans. The Millington Quarry may be shut down in about eight years, Beth Sisk, public relations director for Tilcon, N.Y., Inc., told www.mycentraljersey.com. The town is concerned about the use of contaminated soil in reclamation efforts. A year ago, it began sporadic testing of truckloads of soil. During that year, five loads have tested positive for contaminants in excess of state limits, Committeeman Scott Spitzer told the news organization. If passed, the ordinance would direct the operation to use dirt and fill from its site. When the site closes, Millington Quarry hopes to build a new residential development around a 24-acre lake. That plan was submitted to the township in January, but rejected on July 2. Tilcon and Millington Quarry are in the process of reviewing the township committee’s requirements for the revised rehabilitation plans.
State Supreme Court Justice Michael Lynch dismissed a lawsuit brought by the town of Nassau to try to stop an aggregates mine proposed by Troy Sand & Gravel. The Times Union reports that the state Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) authorized a permit to allow mining at the 89-acre site off Route 66 in May 2007. Three months later, the town sued the DEC and Troy Sand & Gravel. It attempted to negate the permit by arguing that the DEC didn’t take the necessary “hard look” at the project’s environmental impact. Lynch ruled in the DEC’s favor, saying that it did take a hard look at impacts including truck traffic, noise, operating hours, visual impacts, blasting, air quality, dust control, surface and subsurface water impacts, and community character and zoning issues. Town Supervisor David Fleming, who has led the five-year fight against the mine, told the newspaper that the town hasn’t yet decided to appeal. Company owner Jude Clemente called the ruling significant, but questioned the money being spent to fight the mine. “Many of the elected officials fighting this live in the area of the mine and are using taxpayers’ money in their own efforts to keep the mine out of their backyards,” he said.
In mid-July, trucks weighing more than 20,000 pounds were banned from crossing the Route 9W bridge in Stony Point, according to The Journal News. The newspaper reported that most of the overweight trucks traveling the bridge served Tilcon’s Tomkins Cove quarry. During peak season, more than 180 trucks are dispatched from the operation on a daily basis. Each fully loaded truck weighs 120,000 pounds. Tilcon spokesman Geoff Thompson told the newspaper that the company believed it was being singled out and was exploring its legal options. “The town consciously has blocked the two obvious and viable routes…,” Thompson said. “We feel that this is a violation of interstate commerce laws.” Earlier, Lowland Hill Road was closed to the operation’s trucks. Two routes remain available to the site. The first includes a bridge with a maximum weight less than a fully loaded truck and the second is a path that features numerous curves, steep declines, and a narrow width. Thompson said the route would add a minimum of two hours to delivery points in the Bronx and Manhattan and would result in steep price increases.
Vulcan Materials Co.’s Anderson Quarry was presented with the Workplace Volunteer Award by the governor’s office at the 2008 Governor’s Volunteer Awards on May 5. According to www.independentmail.com, the quarry was nominated by Biff Kimmons, a guidance counselor at Nevitt Forest Elementary School. The company has a business-education partnership with the school.
Texas Industries Inc. announced that its Midlothian plant would reschedule its two annual maintenance shutdowns in order to prolong the plant’s production time. The plant completed its first nine-day maintenance shutdown in April rather than January. The typical July shutdown was moved to September. This downtime is expected to last between 10 and 15 days.