November 2009 – State & Province News
by Therese Dunphy, Editor-in-Chief
The Tucson Airport Authority agreed to lease 160 additional acres to Granite Construction Co. The company will expand sand and gravel mining south of the Los Reales Landfill. According to the Arizona Daily Star, Granite Construction estimates it would pay the authority $260,000 a year based on how many tons are produced. The minimum annual rent would be $180,000. The site is south of the landfill and east of two other parcels that Granite has leased since 2002. As part of the lease, the company must fill and restore the property to safe conditions.
County regulators cited Fisher Sand & Gravel Co. for failing to minimize dust near 51st and Southern avenues in Laveen, the Arizona Republic reports. The Maricopa County Air Quality Department cited the company because inspectors found that it didn’t have what it considers proper track-out equipment. The violations will go to the county’s enforcement division, which will schedule a hearing and determine the fines. A spokeswoman for the department told the newspaper that Fisher could be fined up to $10,000 per violation per day. Phoenix residents have been pressing city leaders to shut down the company’s asphalt plant, and a rash of regulatory agencies have been inspecting and citing Fisher.
Polaris Minerals Corp. announced that it has secured an option to lease an existing marine aggregate importing terminal in the Port of Long Beach, Calif. According to PR Newswire, the company says the lease would set the stage for a more cost-effective and quicker entry into the Los Angeles market. The site is already permitted to receive and distribute up to 3 million tons of construction aggregates per year and is located in a deepwater channel close to Interstate 710. The option period is extendable to June 30, 2010.
The city of Temecula made a bid to annex 5,000 acres on its southwestern border in an attempt to prevent Granite Construction from moving forward with its plans to develop a 400-acre quarry, but the county Local Agency Formation Commission voted 5-2 against the annexation. Granite Construction spokesperson Karie Reuther said the commission’s decision — reached after a 10-hour meeting — was a “victory for taxpayers,” The Californian reports. If the quarry is eventually approved by the county, the project will generate jobs, tax revenue for the county, and millions of tons of aggregate for local construction projects.
Ojai-based Stop the Trucks Coalition has recruited some big names to help raise funds to fight gravel-truck traffic in Ojai Valley. According to Ventura County Star, Oscar-winner Keith Carradine and musicians Marty Grebb and Julie Christensen will be among those expected to perform at an all-day concert. Proceeds from the concert will be used to fund legal fees and other expenses of the Stop the Trucks Coalition. Tickets were being sold for $25 to $50. Opponents of the mine expansion include Ojai Valley Chamber of Commerce, Ojai Unified School District, and Ojai City Council.
The Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District unanimously voted to recommend denial of a Lafarge proposal to mine gravel and operate asphalt and concrete batch plants, The Pueblo Chieftain reports. “I think it’s essentially a scarring of the landscape and what this group is trying to do,” claimed Pueblo County Commissioner Jeff Chostner, who chaired the meeting. Steve Brown, regional land coordinator for Lafarge, argued that its proposal fits with the collective vision for Fountain Creek and noted that no more than 20 to 30 acres would be mined at a time.
Lewiston Planning and Zoning commissioners approved a conditional-use permit for the expansion of a rock mining operation, according to the Lewiston Morning Tribune. The permit gives Atlas Sand and Rock the ability to expand its operations by approximately 27 acres. The commission excluded a condition proposed by city staff that would have required a visual buffer of trees.
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