October 2008 – State & Province News
by Therese Dunphy, Editor-in-Chief
A crowd of neighbors outlined their concerns regarding a proposed quarry in Mayflower. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that Mayflower Aggregates LLC leased about 66 acres of land near Easterwood Mountain and plans to begin operations on 12.5 of those acres. Neighbors of the property said they are concerned about blasting, noise, and water impacts. Kenneth George, one of the developers, said he has offered to assist the water company to extend waterlines to people in case they lose their well water. He also explained that blasting operations will not cause structural damage to their properties. According to the newspaper, most Arkansas mining operations are required to obtain a permit from the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality, but state law specifically exempts quarries from the permitting process. Rather, the law requires that a quarry operator file a notice of intent to quarry, notify the public about the intent to quarry, and hold a meeting if there are more than five requests from the public.
Former aggregates operations may hold the key to keeping spring training in Southern Arizona. According to the Arizona Daily Star, a local developer is proposing to redevelop two Marana-area gravel pits into a mixed-use development that would include a two-team baseball stadium and a 16-field practice facility. A resort hotel and an 18-hole golf course built into a pit currently operated by CPC Southwest Materials Inc. are also part of developer David Graham’s vision for the area. The proposal is one facet of a regional effort to keep spring-training baseball in the area. In 2006, the Chicago White Sox announced the team’s intention to break its lease at Tucson Electric Park. In April, the Pima County Board of Supervisors approved the formation of the Pima County Sports and Tourism Authority. The group, made of local business and community leaders, is searching for ways to keep the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies from departing the area.
Going against the wishes of the Fresno County Planning Commission and many area residents, Fresno County supervisors approved a 315-acre gravel mine near Kings River. The Fresno Bee reports that supervisors voted 3-2 for the project, and Calaveras Materials can finally move forward with a project it originally proposed 12 years ago. The vote, which had been put off twice, came after more than three hours of discussion in front of a crowd of about 50 community residents. During the meeting, the main issues discussed included truck traffic and loss of farmland. County staffers recommended that Calaveras preserve the same amount of land it will use for the mine, making the requirement the most farmland ever set aside in the county to offset loss to development. The board increased the staff’s recommendation. Calaveras Vice President Burt Gilpin said the requirement may end up killing the project, but said the company will work with conservationists to try to meet it.
A man who drove a dump truck into a train walked away from the accident with his life, and a $75 ticket. According to the Lewiston Morning Tribune, 45-year-old Jerry Sartin didn’t look both ways before crossing train tracks in Twin Falls. After the dump truck was hit by the train – which was traveling at approximately 20 miles per hour – Sartin was treated and released for minor injuries at a Twin Falls hospital.
At Aggregates Manager’s press time, a final ruling was expected from the Windham Town Council regarding a proposed quarry on Nash Road. According to the Lakes Region Weekly, the council has spent numerous hours reviewing criteria pertaining to the permit request, but finally committed to a date for a decision. Windham developer Peter Busque has requested a 55-acre quarry on a 160-acre property. Although an earlier permit request was denied, Busque scaled back the request. At issue is whether or not trucks could be loaded and travel in and out of the site during winter months. Busque agreed to limit drilling, blasting, and crushing to a May 1 to Oct. 31 timeframe, but said he expects to be able to sale material during winter months as well. Neighbors and at least one town councilor told the newspaper that they believed loaders and trucks are part of operations and should be prohibited during the winter.
Pacella Development Corp. successfully fought a cease-and-desist order issued by the Westford zoning board. According to Lawyers Weekly, the board upheld a building commissioner’s order requiring Pacella to stop all quarrying at its site, but the order was deemed unreasonable and subsequently annulled. In his comments, the judge stated that, although the producer had “substantially changed or expanded the property’s prior non-conforming use,” it was only the expansion that was subject to a later zoning law, not the non-conforming use itself. He also said that according to expert witness testimony, the site had been used for quarrying in its entirety in 1985, prior to the newer zoning law. “I found, as a fact, and now rule, as a matter of law, that Pacella has ‘actually occupied’ the entire property in a manner consistent with its intended use prior to the zoning change,” he said, “and as such, Pacella may continue to use the entire property for quarrying.”
The Texas Township Planning Commission granted a permit to Aggregate Resources Inc. to expand its gravel mining as long as it addresses environmental concerns and meets permit conditions pertaining to setbacks, berms, landscaping, and hours of operation. The Kalamazoo Gazette reports that the permit will allow the company to expand existing operations in Prairie Ronde Township as it extracts gravel in the neighboring Texas Township and sends it via conveyor to its current processing plant in Prairie Ronde. For the last six months, the request spurred discussion and debate, particularly with regard to environmental concerns and the protection of a rare butterfly in the area.
The Benton County Planning Commission approved a permit for a long-anticipated granite mine in late August, the St. Cloud Times reports. Martin Bauerly applied for a conditional use permit for a mine on 136 acres of a 380-acre property in Granite Ledge Township. Officials with the company estimate the site’s reserves to be sufficient for 50 years of mining. The commission approved a five-year permit that includes restrictions on screening the site, maintaining 300-foot setbacks from existing homes and businesses, dust controls, noise monitoring, limited hours of blasting, and reclamation. The site still needs to acquire a mining permit from the township before commencing operations.