February 2010 – State & Province News
by Therese Dunphy, Editor-in-Chief
Lake Forest-based Primoris Services Corp. announced its purchase of an 88-acre quarry in Riverside County. According to the Orange County Register, the purchase of the Juniper Flats Quarry — for about $2.3 million — allowed the company to create Juniper Rock Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary. Company officials estimate a 10-year life cycle for the operation with production of approximately 6 million tons of construction materials.
A draft version of an environmental impact report commissioned by Vulcan Materials Co. indicates that a plan to mine a ridge adjacent to Azusa’s Fish Canyon would have limited impact on surrounding communities. Whittier Daily News reports that Vulcan has a permit to mine 190 acres near Fish Canyon. It wants to exchange 80 acres of unmined land on its eastern property line for the ability to mine 80 acres on its western property line. If approved, the site would be developed using 1- to 2-foot micro benches rather than the 30-foot benches currently used on the eastern side of the quarry. “I think you will see, based on the micro benching reclamation, the ridge will look far more natural than it would if it were not reclaimed using micro benching,” Azusa Assistant Community Development Director Conal McNamara told the newspaper. “At the end of 30 years, hopefully, you will be hard pressed to tell it was a mining operation.”
Ronald H. Gray, executive director of the Kentucky Crushed Stone Association (KCSA), has been named NSSGA’s 2009 State Aggregates Association Executive of the Year. “The KCSA is a strong partner of NSSGA. We are impressed by Ron’s advocacy of transportation reauthorization through attending fly-ins and personally visiting members of Congress, as well as encouraging the participation of so many KCSA members,” said NSSGA President and CEO Joy Wilson in making the announcement. “We value all he is doing in the state of Kentucky, as well as nationally, by contributing meaningful insights from Kentucky aggregates producers to the development of industry positions on federal policy.” KCSA’s Board of Directors adopted NSSGA’s Safety Pledge and obtained signatures from virtually all of the aggregates companies in Kentucky. The association also supported NSSGA’s efforts to secure significant changes to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s visible air emissions dust rule, New Source Performance Standards, by obtaining the state’s Environmental Protection Division’s support. Gray has led KCSA since January 2005.
Members of the Lunenburg Planning Board reviewed the subdivision of a parcel that would allow Powell Stone & Gravel Co. to expand its operation, but failed to move on the issue. According to the Sentinel & Enterprise, owner Steve Powell wants to purchase 10 acres of a 20-acre parcel adjacent to his site to house his company’s trucks and maintenance facility. Prior to the purchase, however, he wants the lot subdivided along a zoning district line. Planning Director Marion Benson supported the move. “I think the Powell’s business is financially very important for the town,” she said. “They do a good job. I never hear any complaints.” The board is waiting for feedback from other town boards prior to taking action.
Aggregate Industries (AI) would give more than 320 acres in Waterloo Township to the state in exchange for the rights to mine sand and gravel for an additional 10 years, mlive.com reports. The acreage would go to the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), while the company would reserve mining rights on state-owned land west of the parcel. It would pay royalties on the estimated 8 to 9 million tons that could be excavated. At Aggregates Manager press time, state DNR officials were scheduled to appear at a Waterloo Township meeting. Township officials had tried to stop another AI mine in Circuit Court, but the judge ruled in favor of AI and refused the township’s request to hear the case again.
A federal judge has ruled that a disputed Las Vegas highway project should be awarded to Fisher Sand and Gravel. The Bismarck Tribune reports that the decision was issued despite a county commission vote to start the bidding process over again. In early January, U.S. District Court Judge Clive Jones granted the company a $112 million contract to widen a section of the Las Vegas Beltway north of the city. A Clark County spokesman said commissioners will decide within 30 days whether to appeal.
An old quarry and adjacent farmland will likely become a town park in Lancaster, featuring several athletic fields, Buffalo News reports. Town officials have worked out a deal to provide the town with 134 acres, along with approximately $5 million to help offset development costs for the park. Landowner Lafarge Corp. donated the adjacent 45 acres of undeveloped land to the town. In addition to the donation, Lafarge is in the process of selling 89 acres of the former quarry to EnSol Inc., a Niagara Falls company that plans to close the quarry over the next decade or so.
Franklin County commissioners are scheduled to hear a request from a Jackson Township businessman who wants his 89-acre property to be annexed by Columbus so he can open a gravel quarry. According to ThisWeek Community Newspapers, Dave Jones is seeking annexation because the township won’t allow him to add gravel mining to his zoning permit. He has permission to dig 4 feet for topsoil, but wants to mine gravel to depths of approximately 40 feet. Jones says that the proposed 55-acre mine would create about 10 jobs and that he would donate the resulting man-made lake for creation of a public park when mining is complete.
The Marion County Board of Commissioners approved a proposed aggregate mining operation for a rural area between Stayton and Sublimity. The developer, Phillips Family Limited Partnership LLC, wants to develop 100 acres of a 405-acre property, StatesmanJournal.com reports. The county’s public works department is developing revised requirements with the developer. One requirement is for the developer to pay for a structural analysis and subsequent road improvements or pay for $1 million to $1.5 million worth of up-front improvements to about 5 miles of roads in the area. Commissioners told protesting neighbors that they are required to uphold state law and can regulate noise, dust, and traffic impacts, but cannot address quality of life issues.
Following an opinion from Commonwealth Court Judge Johnny J. Butler that concluded Dorrance Township had properly denied Slusser Brothers’ application for a special exception, variances, and challenges to a township zoning ordinance, the owners are considering an appeal. According to standardspeaker.com, Patrick Bartorillo, general manager of Slusser Brothers’ Small Mountain Quarry — part of Harrisburg-based Pennsy Supply Co. — said the decision would be reviewed.
Rhode Island Ready Mix LLC/Richmond Stone & Sand LLC acquired the assets of the former Richmond Sand & Gravel and Richmond Ready Mix operations. The Providence Journal-Bulletin reports that the deal includes 241 acres of real estate in Wyoming as well as the inventory, rolling stock, machinery, equipment, and trade names.
Rogers Group received unanimous approval from the Clinton Planning Commission for its proposed quarry. According to The Oak Ridger, berms will be created around the abandoned quarry before it reopens. Site work was expected to begin early this year. Clinton Building Official Curtis Perez told the newspaper that Rogers Group had obtained the necessary water and air permits for the quarry.
Texas Industries Inc. (TXI) faces another delay as it seeks approval for a gravel quarry on 2,000 acres east of Austin. Stateman.com reports that Travis County Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt suggested the formation of a committee comprised of neighbors, TXI employees, and county staffers to review the operation’s impact on neighbors. Lawyers for county officials told them they lack legal authority to deny the project without strong evidence that nearby residents’ health would be damaged. Commissioners followed Eckhardt’s recommendation and intend for the committee to explore ways to monitor air quality, water quality, and other aspects of quarry operations over which no government entity has jurisdiction. Eckhardt acknowledged that the committee’s ability to impose restrictions on the company is uncertain.
The Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VA DEQ) recognized Luck Stone’s Powhatan and Spotsylvania Quarries for achieving E3 status on Dec. 16. Luck Stone is a member of the Virginia Environmental Excellence Program, a voluntary program sponsored by the VA DEQ that recognizes facilities that have made a commitment to continuous environmental improvement. There are three levels of achievement, starting at E2 (an Environmental Enterprise). Once a facility has implemented an Environmental Management System (EMS) and documented significant objectives and goals for environmental improvement, the facility can then be promoted to the level of E3 (Exemplary Environmental Enterprise), a level at which greater independence and responsibility are given to the recognized organization. Luck Stone’s Powhatan and Spotsylvania quarries are the only quarries in Virginia to be recognized at an advanced level. “As the first member of the mining industry to be recognized as an Exemplary Environmental Enterprise in the Virginia Environmental Excellence Program, we are extremely proud of the Spotsylvania and Powhatan Quarries,” said Mark Williams, environmental manager for Luck Stone.
In late 2009, Whatcom County planners decided that rezoning land near Acme to allow future sand and gravel mining wouldn’t cause significant harm to the environment. According to The Bellingham Herald, a flood of negative comments regarding the decision have prodded the planners to withdraw that decision. Planners now say that rezoning won’t become effective until after the mining company — Concrete Nor’West — applies for a mining permit and the county staff determines whether the operation will harm the environment.