State and Province News April 2013
To keep up to date with this breakdown of news in the United States and Canada, visit www.aggman.com for daily updates.
By Therese Dunphy, Editor-in-Chief
An Alabama attorney is unhappy that the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) approved Vulcan Materials Co.’s permit request for an operation in Madison County, and he’s doing his level best to incite citizens to hold their feet to the fire. “We don’t just need to let (Vulcan) monitor themselves,” attorney John Harrison said in an AL.com report. “That’s like leaving the fox in charge of the hen house.” Instead, he’s saying neighbors should monitor the operation. He said some residents are purchasing their own seismographs, while others are creating an inventory of dated photos of their homes and foundations. Still more are talking to an administrator with Alabama Waterwatch, a volunteer-driven, water-quality testing program.
The protracted fight between the cities of Duarte and Azusa may be nearing an end as the second appellate district court affirmed the Los Angeles Superior Court’s decision against the city of Duarte, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports. Duarte had claimed — among other things — that the Azusa Rock Quarry’s mining plan had a faulty environmental report, but the courts rejected that contention. The court also ruled that Azusa would be awarded legal costs incurred in fighting Duarte’s lawsuit. Duarte has the option of appealing the verdict to the state supreme court.
The state’s proposed $9.1 billion budget includes plans for an 11-percent increase in transportation spending as the state tries to increase jobs, build more roads, and get the state’s ports ready for the Panama Canal expansion. According to the Bradenton Herald, projects include $532 million in additional lanes on Interstate 75; $154 million in additional lanes and reconstruction of the Homestead extension of the Florida Turnpike; $69 million in additional lanes on the Veterans Expressway in Hillsborough County; $27 million for the expansion of Bruce B. Downs Boulevard; and $25 million in additional lanes and reconstruction of State Road 823. Ports also benefit from the budget with Miami slated for $30.6 million, Tampa for $26.7 million, Manatee for $19.5; and nearly $100 million for other ports in the state. “The construction industry was the most hurt by the recession,” Rep. Ed Hooper, chair of the House transportation appropriations committee, told the newspaper. “So the industry will only be helped by more spending.”
The Woodford County Board deferred a decision on Peoria Concrete Construction Co.’s request for a special-use permit to mine farmland adjacent to its facility near Bayview Gardens. The Peoria Journal Star reports that a question on the language of the zoning code led to the delay. Peoria Concrete and its neighbors reached an agreement about the expansion in January, and the Woodford County Zoning Board of Appeals approved the agreement. A decision is expected soon.
Approximately 80 people attended a community forum hosted by U.S. Silica to address neighbor concerns about its proposed 120-acre silica mine near Ash and Berlin townships. According to The Monroe Evening News, neighbor concerns led the Ash and Berlin planning commissions to table action on the operation for three months last fall. U.S. Silica released an environmental impact report that indicated the mine would “not cause harm or impairment to the general public.”
Minnesota lawmakers recently heard testimony on the state’s silica sand mining in what may be the first phase of a potential fight over the state’s role in the process, the Associated Press reports. Although permitting decisions are typically left to local jurisdiction, busloads of critics flooded the Capitol and asked for a statewide study of health and environmental impacts; a temporary moratorium on new mines and processing facilities; and improved statewide oversight and regulation. “We feel (local governments) are best suited to decide the local land use issues,” Mike Carson, director of land use affairs for Tiller Corp., told an AP reporter. “They are each unique, and each of them should be studied on their own so that all the local issues and concerns can be dealt with.” A state Senate bill was also introduced. If passed, it would place a moratorium on new mines until March 1, 2014.
Despite objections from residents, environmental groups, and a planning commission recommendation against it, the Scandia City Council voted 5-0 to greenlight Tiller Corp.’s conditional-use permit and annual operating permit application. According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the permit approval includes 83 conditions on the conditional-use permit and 31 conditions on the annual operating permit. After receiving permits from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the Minnesota Department of Transportation, and the Carnelian-Marine-St. Croix Watershed District, Tiller will be able to mine 1 million tons per year of sand from the 114-acre site for the next three years.
A Robeson County Superior Court judge dismissed an appeal of a county Board of Commissioners’ decision to grant a conditional-use permit for a sand mining operation, The Robesonian reports. Buie Lakes Plantation LLC received the permit last July and plans to build a $22 million plant to process sand for use in solar panels. The permit includes restrictions on the location of the processing plant and truck traffic, and around-the-clock security. An attorney for petitioners who filed the appeal said the court’s ruling would be further appealed.
At Aggregates Manager’s press time, Martin Marietta Materials was in the midst of a series of meetings with the Onslow County Board of Adjustment. Jdnews.com reports that the operator is seeking a special-use permit for a 1,800-acre mine. John Stevens, the natural resources director for the company, told the board that the area needs a new quarry because existing local sites are nearing depletion, and suitable sites are scarce. The plan is an alternative to one rejected by the board two years ago.
Two Lane County developers emerged victorious from the latest legal battle over their gravel mine at Parvin Butte, near Dexter. According to The Register Guard, the state Land Use Board of Appeal agreed with the developers that they did not need a site review permit from Lane County before carrying out their mining plans, as long as extraction and processing took place at least 200 feet from the property perimeter. The county language contains the provision for the setback, but nothing requiring a site review, the board of appeals said. An attorney for neighbors fighting the mine said he would appeal the case to the Oregon Court of Appeals.
Whatcom hearing examiner Michael Bobbink issued three stop-work orders against Lummi Rock, LLC in 2012 and came close to shutting down the operation during a February hearing. The Bellingham Herald reports that the examiner was particularly upset about a photo he saw of plumes of turbid water coming from the site and receiving what he describes as “almost a rude document” after he required a stormwater plan. An attorney for the operator said the photo was from 2008, and no sediment has been spilled offshore since late 2011.
Gov. Scott Walker’s two-year budget calls for $6.4 billion in transportation funding, an increase of $824 million compared to his previous budget. WUWM reports that the plan would allow major projects to remain on schedule. Additional revenue would come from four sources: federal transit aid, Wisconsin’s general fund, the state’s petroleum inspection fund, and the issuance of $624 million in bonds. “An efficient, safe transportation system is necessary for growing our economy and creating jobs,” Walker told the radio station.
Gravel operators from Summit Sand and Gravel, Mainland Sand and Gravel, and Lafarge Sand and Gravel worked together to build a truck route that minimizes gravel trucks traveling roads in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada, the Abbotsford Times reports. Collaboration began following a neighborhood meeting during which residents voiced concern about the safety of loaded gravel trucks on steep local roads. The three operators pooled their resources and built a new road within the three quarries; reducing trucks on local roads by an estimated 75 percent.