State and Province News August 2011
To keep up to date with this breakdown of news in the
United States and Canada, visit www.AggMan.com for daily updates.
A $400 million new cement plant, the first in the state in more than 50 years, plans to ramp up production as soon as the economy improves. The Arizona Republic reports that the Drake Cement plant, near Paulden, acquired three suppliers in the region and branded them Drake Materials. The plant has been in the works since the 1990s and is one of three currently operating in the state. “The market is very difficult,” Brad Belt, senior vice president, told the newspaper. “There is not enough demand for any producer in the state to be running 24 hours a day. In these markets, we run the plant as long as we can until our storage capacity is full, and then shut down and fire up again when it is time to replenish.”
In mid-June, the Duarte City Council voted unanimously to appeal a judge’s ruling in favor of neighboring Azusa and a mining plan for Vulcan Material Co.’s Azusa Rock Quarry. According to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, Duarte City Manager Darrell George said, “The council’s decision to appeal continues Duarte’s belief that the Vulcan EIR is seriously flawed and that destroying the Van Tassel ridge is the wrong thing to do.” A judge ruled in Azusa’s favor on all counts, including a claim that the environmental impact report was flawed. Azusa councilman Keith Hanks told the newspaper that he was disappointed in Duarte’s decision to appeal, but confident that his city would prevail.
Ken Evarts, president of Seashore Construction Co., appealed a cease-and-desist order for his operation, but the appeal was rejected. The New Haven Register reports that the Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously agreed that Evarts should no longer be able to extract and remove material from his property. Evarts’ attorney said that extraction had been taking place since the turn of the century and should be allowed to continue if it predated zoning laws, which went into effect in 1953. The town engineer presented two photos of the land from 1951 and 1971 showing that it was farmland at that time. The Zoning Board of Appeals chairman told the newspaper that it did not have enough evidence to say that the non-conforming use predated zoning laws and rejected Evart’s appeal.
West Cumberland voters overwhelmingly approved a ban on commercial gravel operations in rural residential neighborhoods. According to the Portland Press Herald, the vote was 862 to 507 in favor of the first citizen-initiated referendum to change an ordinance in the town’s history. Last fall, the town halted a gravel operation on land owned by Elvin and Randy Copp because it did not have the correct permits. A six-month moratorium was then imposed on new gravel pit applications. Rural residential zones cover about 80 percent of the town. The change does not impact existing aggregate operations in the area.
At Aggregates Manager’s press time, a July 1 state government shutdown appeared imminent. In the absence of a state budget agreement, agencies such as the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) were preparing contingency plans in case contracts are suspended, pending authorized appropriations. The Saint Paul Legal Ledger Capital Report noted MnDOT’s 2011 construction program includes 258 new and ongoing projects valued at $900 million, with another $398 million worth of improvements over four years to state roads rated as poor. Tom Stockert, area vice president for Knife River Corp., told the local publication, “We typically don’t show profits until well after July 1, closer to Labor Day.” The company currently has a state project to make improvements to Highways 30 and 83 in Blue Earth County as well as a $14.4 million Highway 212 project in Renville and McLeod counties.
Elam Sand and Gravel and a former town board member, Gary Evans, filed a lawsuit in the state Supreme Court to force West Bloomfield to act on the company’s application for a special-use permit. According to the Democrat and Chronicle, the lawsuit was filed on June 7. A day later, the town adopted a nine-month moratorium on new special-use permits in the town’s agricultural zone (which includes the mine site). A lawyer for the operator told the newspaper that the moratorium was adopted specifically to stall its application.
Ohio aggregate companies are benefitting from a new state initiative, CSI Ohio, intended as a common-sense initiative to cut the negative impact of red tape on state businesses. Columbus Business First reports that Lieutenant Gov. Mary Taylor is directing the program. With Taylor’s help, Pat Jacomet, executive director of the Ohio Aggregates and Industrial Minerals Association, says his group was able to conclude a decade-long negotiation with the state Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on a package of general permits designed to streamline the ability of aggregate companies to begin new operations. Under the new system, companies agree to abide by specific requirements and environmental protections outlined in a general permit issued by the EPA. Companies can then work immediately on projects by notifying the EPA that they will operate under the general permit.
Following approval of a gravel mining operation by the Lane County Board of Commissioners, opponents plan to fight the mine on the state level. According to The Register-Guard, about 40 landowners and residents have joined Families for a Quarry-Free Neighborhood. In 2007, mining applicants Donald Overholser and Rodney Mathews applied for county approval of an 18-acre quarry. The project was approved by the planning director in 2010 with some conditions to address issues such as road improvements, hours of operation, truck size, speeds, and number of daily hauling trips. The mine applicant appealed the road improvements, and the hearing official affirmed the planning director’s decision, but removed some limitations including truck speed and number of trips. The board of directors upheld that decision, and opponents are now appealing to the state Land Use Board of Appeals.
A New Hope couple, Jim and Kathy Lyons, have organized a citizens group — New Hope Residents Association — to urge state officials to deny a permit for the New Hope Crushed Stone and Lime quarry. According to The Intelligencer, the quarry is seeking approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to dig to depths of 170 feet, a 50-foot increase from its current level. The DEP is reviewing its request. In the meantime, the New Hope Council president told the newspaper that the council may consider sending a letter supporting the community group’s resistance. The group also turned to Rep. Bernie O’Neill and Sen. Chuck McIlhinney, both of whom have supported its cause.
Industrial Asphalt’s KBDJ Conservation Land & Quarry has implemented a dry dust suppression system at its Hays County quarry. According to Hays Free Press, new equipment and technology are reducing dust emissions by up to 35 percent, while reducing water usage by at least 80 percent. “Dry dust suppression helps protect two natural resources of great value to our neighbors — fresh water and clean air — allowing our company to continue providing locally sourced raw materials that are the building blocks for our region,” KBDJ President Jill Shackelford told the media. The quarry is also using enclosed conveyors to minimize airborne dust.
A new state law, based on HB 571, takes effect on Sept. 1. It requires aggregate operators to register their facilities by Sept. 1, 2012, with inspections beginning Sept. 1, 2015. The law is intended to eliminate the impact of rogue operators and would assess permit fees of about $550, The Houston Chronicle reports. Registration fees — of less than $1,000 — would be assessed to operators. Sites that are not registered will face fines of between $5,000 and $10,000 per year, with fines up to $25,000 if they remain unregistered for a three-year period. “This brought together a lot of people who normally work on the opposite end of the spectrum,” Richard Szecsy, president of the Texas Aggregates and Concrete Association, told the newspaper. “One important thing to note is that the aggregate industry did want this bill. We want these unlicensed operators out.”
A South Kitsap homeowner filed a complaint about the proposed extension of a gravel mine near his home, claiming excessive dirt and traffic congestion in the area are the major problems, the Kitsap Sun reports. Steve Taylor filed the complaint with the Department of Natural Resources in response to a request from Miles Sand & Gravel for an extension of its permit for an operation on Bethel-Burley Road in Port Orchard. The company mined about 3 acres of the site during the summer of 2009 and has not operated there since. It now seeks to work the site until 2022 or until the reserves are depleted. A spokesperson for the Kitsap County Department of Community Development noted that the area is zoned as a mineral resource overlay site to let residents know there “may be a possibility of mining in that area in the future.”
A 2,300-acre limestone quarry proposed for a site in Dufferin County will not affect local drinking water, according to a report from the Guelph city staff. According to the Guelph Mercury, the city’s water supply program manager told council, “Based on the staff’s technical review, the proposed quarry operation falls outside of the Speed River Subwatershed and is not considered to be a concern with respect to either the quality or sustainability of Guelph’s water supply.” The city council ordered the review after residents voiced concerns about its impact on the water supply.