September 2009 – State & Province News
by Therese Dunphy, Editor-in-Chief
A U.S. District judge dismissed Rogers Group’s lawsuit against Limestone County Commission members, but at Aggregates Manager’s press time had not decided whether the quarry violates four state laws aimed at preventing its operation near Tanner. The News Courier reports that U.S. District Judge Inge Johnson dismissed Rogers Group’s claims against individual commission members, the commission, and landowners, but will hear evidence before deciding the constitutionality of local laws and whether they apply to the quarry. In a separate case, U.S. District Judge Sharon Blackburn dismissed a request by attorneys for the Limestone County Commission and landowners to return the case to the Limestone County Circuit Court. That case is now closed.
Months after a Phoenix Municipal Court judge ruled that Fisher Sand & Gravel Co. did not obtain a city permit to build a 3-year-old asphalt plant on its site, some south Phoenix residents are pressuring the city to shut down the plant. According to The Arizona Republic, city officials say they don’t have the legal authority to shut the plant down. In the meantime, the company is appealing the court ruling. Company officials outlined a proposal to allow the asphalt plant to operate for eight years. In return for the city’s approval, the company would shut down the plant and its nearby gravel operation and build a commerce park on the 50-acre site. The proposal is making its way through the zoning process. Public hearings could be starting at any time.
After three years of development, the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for Granite Construction’s proposed Liberty Quarry has been finalized, the company reports. The DEIR, which is more than 7,000 pages, notes that the quarry provides multiple benefits to the region, reduces traffic on congested freeways, and improves the county’s air quality. “This report confirms what we’ve been saying since the beginning,” said Gary Johnson, aggregate resource development manager for Granite Construction. “This is an ideal location because it’s removed from population centers, has easy access to the freeway, and is not visible from the surrounding community.” The DEIR concluded that the best option is a reduced footprint that would reduce the operation’s size by 20 acres and prohibit access to approximately 13 percent of the reserves.
A Superior Court judge ordered the state Department of Transportation (DOT) to pay nearly $20 million more than it did for a 107-acre Brookfield quarry it took by eminent domain in 2004. According to NewsTimesLive.com, the DOT paid property owner Rock Acquisition LP $4.1 million when it took the land. Judge Barbara Sheedy ordered the agency to pay $22.9 million plus interest on the money from the time of the first payment. In her decision, Sheedy said that because the land’s most favorable use would have been as a quarry, the central issue to the case was the valuation of the reserves. “We worked hard and long for the right result, for a fair result,” said Robert Parker, president and CEO of Rock Acquisition. “All we wanted was fairness.”
Aggregate Industries, Northeast Region Inc., will pay a $2.75 million civil penalty and implement a regional evaluation and compliance program to resolve violations of the Clean Water Act, the Justice Department and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced. The penalty is the largest ever assessed to a nationwide ready-mix company for stormwater violations under the Clean Water Act and is the latest in a series of federal enforcement actions to address stormwater violations from industrial facilities and construction sites around the nation. Under terms of the consent decree, the company will implement pollution control measures, such as closed-loop water recycling systems, to eliminate discharges into surface waters.
An order signed by Judge Jerry Brown of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana converts the case of Madisonville, La.-based Phoenix Associates Land Syndicate from Chapter 11 to Chapter 7 liquidation. According to the Daily Deal, one of the sand and gravel company’s creditors — International Tuft Applicators Inc. — is seeking relief from stay so it can continue with litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The company is owed $880,000. U.S. District Court Judge David Knowles remarked that the bankruptcy was filed in bad faith, since it occurred one day before the trial was set to begin. A hearing to consider the relief was scheduled, but it is not clear if the Chapter 7 conversion will affect the request. Phoenix listed assets of $6,300 and liabilities of $20.1 million in its petition.
GE Goding & Sons Inc., one of largest suppliers of sand, gravel, and concrete in the Lincoln Lakes region, abruptly shut its doors after its normal winter layoff. The Bangor Daily News reports that Sargent Corp. is negotiating to buy at least some of the assets of the 62-year-old business. Sargent has several gravel pits in the state and is said to be particularly interested in Goding’s gravel pit operations in Lincoln and some of its concrete plants.