December 2008 – State & Province News
One executive of Dickinson-based Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. has pleaded guilty in a federal tax fraud case, while another has pleaded not guilty. The Bismarck Tribune reports that both CEO Amiel Schaff and Vice President Michael Fisher were accused of avoiding income tax payments between 2001 and 2004. Schaff has pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud; four other charges against him were dropped as part of the plea agreement. The agreement says that Schaff knew that personal expenses for Fisher and other family members were being accounted for as business expenses in company records. Sentencing is set for March 30. Fisher has pleaded not guilty to the nine counts with which he is charged.
Jackson Township and Grove City officials want the city of Columbus to stop Jones Fuel Co. (also known as Jones Topsoil) from opening a quarry on 60 acres of its 90-acre parcel near I-270. Jackson Township Administrator Mike Lilly sent letters to the Columbus City Council and Mayor Michael Coleman calling the plan “a horrible change in land use.” The Columbus Dispatch reports that the city council was scheduled to vote on an ordinance necessary to annex the land to the city, but a council member asked for it to be pulled from the agenda so stakeholders could discuss it further.
Ross Island sits in the middle of the Willamette River and features a lagoon on the east side that Ross Island Sand and Gravel mined for decades. Mining ended in 2005, although the company still runs a gravel crushing facility there. Last year, Ross Island owner Bob Pamplin donated 45-acres of the island to the city. According to Oregon Public Broadcasting, work recently began to restore the native habitat, and workers hope to regenerate the population of cottonwood and ash trees on the island. The reclamation plan also calls for nearly 415 million cubic yards of clean fill – to be provided by Ross Island Sand and Gravel – to be deposited in the lagoon.
The Times reports Washington County officials have tentatively denied Measure 49 claims from Tigard Sand & Gravel LLC and Oregon Asphaltic Paving LLC. The groups operate on a combined 276 acres near Sherwood. The companies filed claims to allow the property owner to divide the land into the number of parcels permitted when he acquired the property and establish one dwelling on each parcel. Neighbors supported the idea, but county officials tentatively denied the companies’ claims saying that they failed to demonstrate that the claimant is the property owner as defined by state law and that they failed to demonstrate that any regulations adopted since the property came inside the Urban Growth Boundary reduced the fair market value of the property as required by state law.
Vulcan Materials Co. donated $46,765 to the Southeastern Adams Volunteer Emergency Services (SAVES) capital campaign, “A Partnership for a Safer Community.” According to The Evening Sun, SAVES plans to run the campaign for six months with a goal of raising more than $1 million to help finance a new fire station and social hall.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), it issued a permit amendment that restricts Hanson Aggregates’ dredging activities in portions of the Allegheny River. The change was made after a type of mussel, regarded by the federal government as a species of concern, was discovered. When the DEP issued Hanson its dredging permit in 2006, it required the company to conduct mussel surveys and report the results to the agency. The surveys and reporting had to be done before dredging could begin in a new area. The survey found two live salamander mussels, which the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission have proposed be placed on the state’s threatened and endangered species list. The DEP agreed to prohibit dredging in the areas where salamander mussels were found. The amendment prohibits Hanson from dredging in the river at mile 31.25 through mile 31.65, but authorizes the company to dredge in the river from mile 30.7 to mile 31.25 and from mile 31.65 to mile 31.7. Hanson may request authorization to dredge in the prohibited area if the mussels are not added to the Fish and Boat Commission’s threatened and endangered list.
Bedford County Board of Commissioners’ rules and legislative committee deferred action on a proposed change to the county zoning resolution affecting where quarries can be located to seek a legal opinion from the county attorney. The Shelbyville Time Gazette reports that commissioners have already rejected the proposed change once, but Bedford County Planning Commission asked for it to be reconsidered. The proposed change would move quarries from the special impact industrial zone to the general industrial zone. In either case, a quarry developer would have to ask for property to be rezoned. Commissioners are wrestling with overall land-use issues such as whether quarries should be located within the urban growth boundary – close to a city – or in more rural locations.