State and Province News April 2010
Richmond Township supervisors holding a series of closed-door meetings regarding contentious plans for a quarry expansion may be doing so in violation of the Sunshine Act. The Reading Eagle reports that the supervisors announced meetings with neighboring municipalities, Lehigh Cement officials, and members of the East Penn Valley citizens group, which is opposed to the proposed expansion. The town solicitor said he could not divulge what was being discussed other than to say that discussions dealt with litigation about the quarry, noting that a zoning hearing constitutes active litigation. Melissa Melewsky, media law counsel for the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association, told the newspaper that the body can deliberate during an executive session or meet with its attorney, but neither appears to be the case with these meetings.
In response to neighbor complaints about a proposed 2,000-acre quarry, Austin City Council members asked the city staff to look for ways to more effectively regulate projects near the city limits. According to the American-Statesman, Texas Industries Inc. contends that it has met all applicable laws for the site. State law gives cities some authority outside their boundaries through “extraterritorial jurisdictions” created by the Legislature to protect neighborhoods near city limits from incompatible use, but is mainly limited to ensuring the project does not pollute local waterways.
Menzel Lake Gravel’s plan to nearly triple the size of its pit faces opposition in Granite Falls. The Daily Herald reports that the operator has applied to Snohomish County to increase its operation by 91 acres, with an additional 141 acres around the perimeter set aside for wetlands protection. The operation is not inside the city limits, so the county rather than the city will decide on its request, but city officials are fighting the expansion. The proposal would increase truck trips allowed in and out of the pit over the course of a year to an average of 200 per day, from the current 68 per day. Rob Hild, owner-manager of Menzel Lake Gravel, said while the size of the pit would grow, the operation would not. It is a family operation with six employees, including Hild.
The Port of Tacoma approved the sale of its Maytown property to Maytown Sand and Gravel for $17 million, The News Tribune reports. The move was delayed at the end of 2009 because of concerns raised by an environmental group opposed to mining in the habitat. Thurston County officials have said that the port is not in compliance with the gravel mining special-use permit, and they haven’t granted go-ahead on mining.
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has scheduled an informal conference for April 14 at 7 p.m. at the Mountain Ridge Intermediate School in Gerrardstown. According to the Charleston Daily Mail, the state regulators are seeking information on private water intakes in streams near a shale quarry proposed by North Mountain Shale LLC. The operator is seeking a pollution discharge permit from the DEP for a quarry on its 100-acre site that would discharge treated water and storm water into tributaries of Mill Creek.
Two Kraemer Co. employees, Richard Marino and Roger Osegard, answered questions about its proposed operation during a recent Kinnickinnic Town board meeting. River Falls Journal reports that the company would like to develop two parcels of land currently owned by Cudd Trust Co. and develop a 40,000-ton-per-year operation. Mining would take place in 3-acre increments. Residents voiced concerns about horses being spooked and environmental issues. A town supervisor requested the names of homeowners near Kraemer’s other quarry sites as references.
The Hudson Plan Commission recommended approval of a 9.6-acre expansion of the Mimbach limestone quarry over objections of neighboring property owners. According to the Hudson Star-Observer, a member of the Plan Commission recognized Milestone Materials management, a subsidiary of Mathy Construction Co., as “good and responsible people” and the motion carried with no objections. The Hudson City Council will have final say on whether to amend Milestone Materials’ conditional use permit for the quarry to clear its path for expansion.
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