January 2008 – State & Province News
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced that it extended the public comment period for the Draft Environmental Assessment written for the application by JTL Group Inc. to mine and process gravel near Lolo. The extension was granted to accommodate public requests and holiday schedules. JTL Group Inc. applied for a Mine Land Reclamation Permit to mine and process gravel on a 37-acre site in Lolo.
A new ATV park is being created through the purchase of a 224-acre former sand and gravel site in South Jersey, The Star Ledger reports. Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Deputy Commissioner John Watson told the newspaper that his department has spent $1.2 million in Green Acres funds to purchase the tract in Monroe, Gloucester County. “Forests, wildlife, and natural areas are suffering greatly because of illegal use,” he told the newspaper, noting that ATV use conflicts with other state park uses. Environmentalists oppose the project.
At Aggregates Manager press time, the Lebanon Planning Board was expected to hear a proposal from Twin State Sand and Gravel regarding its proposal to build a business park on land that it owns in West Lebanon. Its proposal would include industrial facilities, three restaurants, and a hotel on the 92-acre site. The Union Leader reports that the company also wants to develop a 55-acre “Industrial Planned-Unit Development” within that site. Two remaining lots would be used for commercial development. The planning board, which has encouraged mixed-use development and business parks in the past, was expected to review the proposal in mid-December.
Nassau town officials will appeal a state judge’s ruling that invalidates a 2006 town law that banned commercial mining. According to The Times Union, Town Supervisor Raymond Sweeney says officials are trying to protect the town’s interests. Mining became a hot topic in 2003 when West Sand Lake-based Troy Sand & Gravel and Callanan Industries sought permits. Troy Sand & Gravel’s state permit was approved in May 2007, but it still does not have a town permit. A state Supreme Court Justice ruled that the local law — which prohibited mining — was illegal because a super majority (a 4-to-1 vote) was needed to pass it. In the meantime, a bill that would block the state from approving mining operations over local objections has stalled in the state Senate.
Carteret County filed a lawsuit in an attempt to stop the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from dredging Beaufort Inlet. The Triangle Business Journal reports that county representatives say they believe the federal project harms the ecosystem of Bogue Banks. Through the Morehead City Harbor Project, the Corps dredges sand from Beaufort Inlet to maintain shipping channels and then dumps the sand offshore because doing so is significantly less expensive than placing it on the beach. Carteret County officials have asked the Corps to place beach-quality sand, but federal law requires local sponsors to pay the difference in costs for any beach reclamation projects.
The Hopkinton Town Council discussed, but didn’t take action on a proposed earth-removal and restoration ordinance that would regulate new and existing sand and gravel operations, The Providence Journal reported. Some producers complained that the language in the proposed regulation would favor large operators over smaller ones. Council members agreed to consider alternative language. Another portion of the regulation that troubled producers was proposed language that would mandate that cleared trees, stumps, and brush be removed from the site. Currently, state law allows property owners to bury such materials on a designated portion of their site. Again, the council compromised on a requirement to post a cash bond of up to $2,000 per acre of property being excavated. Finally, the proposed ordinance would require all sand removal operations to obtain an earth removal permit within 18 months of its passage.
The body of Kennard Honore, a 69-year-old Californian who disappeared in October, was found in early December buried in a remote Kane County gravel pit. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that investigators are trying to gather evidence in what the newspaper describes as a “baffling” case. After Honore failed to make weekly calls to his daughter, an investigation began. His Navajo Lake summer home was found empty while his wallet, cell phone, checkbook, and keys remained on a table inside the cabin. His pickup truck was found about three-quarters of a mile from a gravel pit near the cabin. The site was searched and Honore’s body was found covered with 2 inches of dirt. He had been shot to death. The Kane County sheriff’s deputies are still seeking tips and can be reached at 435-644-2349.
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