State and Province News April 2014
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
M&N Materials filed a 15-page lawsuit against the town of Gurley, WAFF.com reports, noting the lawsuit outlines steps the town has taken for more than a decade to prevent quarry operations at its property. The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages, as well as legal fees. It also seeks an injunction to prevent the town from using its authority over the proposed quarry site. At Aggregates Manager’s press time, no hearing date had been scheduled.
A group of ranchers who fought a mountaintop quarry and asphalt plant near Ione won the latest round in court. The Record reports Amador Superior Court Judge J.S. Hermanson ruled that county officials “failed to accurately reveal the likely traffic impacts of the Newman Ridge quarry before environmental documents were approved for the project two years ago.” The judge ordered local officials to address traffic impacts before the project can be approved.
Vulcan Materials Co. is once again mining at its Azusa Rock Quarry, and work is well underway to convert the site’s benches into 1- to 2-foot microbenches, The San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports. As that work is completed, the hillside is being replanted with native vegetation, and about 20 percent of the reclamation has already been accomplished. A trail to the Fish Canyon Trailhead is also expected to be completely open by Aug. 20. Vulcan will eventually shift its operations from 80 acres on the eastern end of the 270-acre property to 80 acres on its western end. Vulcan officials told the newspaper that the company has paid the city of Azusa more than $2.5 million in tax revenues as part of its agreement.
Hundreds of residents near Branford’s Stony Creek Quarry were evacuated in early February after rubber mats caught fire not far from an explosives storage area. TheShorelineTimes.com reports that personnel from the state bomb squad; the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; state emergency management officials; and firefighters from two towns assisted in putting out the fire. The report indicates the fire was caused by quarry workers burning cardboard previously used to store explosives. The fire was ruled accidental.
Gov. Sam Brownback presented Mid-State Materials LLC, of Lecompton, with the 2013 Governor’s Mined Land Reclamation Award for work at its Big Springs quarry in Douglas County. LJWorld.com reports that the operation covers 50 acres, and the project included wildlife food plots, reintroduction of quail, and the construction of several ponds. The award was presented at a meeting of the Kansas Aggregate Producers Association.
A break-in at the Neosho County quarry may cost local taxpayers approximately $30,000; the value of electrical cables taken from the site. According to The Chanute Tribune, the electrical supply cables from the rock crusher were removed, as well as cables from an assortment of other equipment. Road and Bridge Director Charles Morse told the newspaper that he anticipated approximately $30,000 in losses when all the replacements are acquired. New security measures will be implemented at the quarry. A similar break-in took place at Midwest Minerals, near Parsons.
Hughes Bros. are trying for a second time to have a proposed quarry in Eddington approved by town planners. Bangor Daily News reports the company’s first attempt was rejected in October. With its second application for an aggregates operation, the company moved the access point to the quarry, increased the buffer zone between the site and residences, and coordinated additional studies on the site’s potential impact on noise and water. The quarry would initially be 5 to 10 acres with potential growth up to 20 acres. In addition to considering the proposal, town officials are also working on a proposal for a 180-day moratorium on quarry applications.
Chaney Enterprises is seeking permission to move a sand and gravel plant and ready-mix concrete plant from one portion of its 211-acre property in Charles County to another part of the property. According to Southern Maryland Newspapers Online, the new location is currently zoned rural conservation and would need to be reclassified as heavy industrial. The operator received a special exception from the Board of Appeals in 2010 that would allow the plant’s opening and operation, but the terms of that agreement would be in effect for 25 years. The company is seeking a more permanent decision.
Most operators face challenges from surrounding communities when they want to open a new operation. In West Roxbury Crushed Stone Co.’s case, the operator is dealing with organized meetings regarding its reclamation plans. In February, more than 100 neighbors and elected officials attended a meeting organized by state Sen. Mike Rush, state Rep. Ed Coppinger, and City Councilor Matt O’Malley to discuss its plans to accept fill from area construction projects. West Roxbury Transcript reports that an environmental consultant for the operator explained there are — from a regulatory standpoint — four categories of soil from a construction site: highly contaminated, above reportable concentrations, below reportable concentrations, and urban fill/naturally occurring. Only material from the last two grades would be accepted at the site, and a licensed site professional would be employed by the property owners to make sure soil coming out of a site was sent to the appropriate destination. Despite the answers provided by the operator, the moderator suggested it would not be the last community meeting.
More than 200 people packed a public hearing regarding McCoig Materials Inc.’s application for a special-use permit and mining application. According to The Ann Arbor News, numerous residents made public comments, particularly regarding truck traffic and the operation’s impact on the rural nature of the community. The planning commission chairman said that he expects it to be a long process, but noted that the Michigan Zoning Enabling Act provides that local ordinances “shall not prevent the extraction, by mining, of valuable natural resources from any property unless very serious consequences would result from the extraction of those natural resources.” A consultant for the operator pointed out that the site was selected because of the low population density, geology, and proximity to the state highway.
The owner of a proposed operation called The Family Ranch told opponents that no blasting would take place at the quarry if his plans are approved. Lee’s Summit Journal reports that excavators will use only a mechanical system that uses hydraulics to expand wedges in holes drilled into the rock to split it. A hoe-ram would further fracture the material before it is crushed. The programming director for land reclamation with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources said that a recommendation on a permit for the project is expected to be included on the Land Reclamation Commission’s May agenda.
In mid-April, the Silver Spring Township’s Zoning Hearing Board is expected to make a decision on Pennsy Supply’s request to expand its quarry along an 18-acre parcel located northwest of its existing quarry. That tract is currently zoned for residential use. According to The Sentinel, neighbors voiced concerns about buffer zones and blasting. An attorney representing the operator said the company was willing to engage the homeowners in a dialogue regarding its expansion plans and would comply with all laws that protect the safety of properties in the area.