State and Province News January 2013
More than two years after Thibeault Sand & Gravel filed a suit against the Raymond Planning Board, it is still hoping to come to an agreement with the town without further litigation. According to The Union Leader, the operator filed suit against the planning board after it denied an application to operate a quarry on its Raymond quarry. A third group to the litigation, the Upper Lamprey Neighbors Group, is an intervenor in the case and was recently compelled into mediation with Thibeault and the town by a Rockingham County Superior Court Justice. Finally, the board of selectmen filed a motion seeking to act as intervenors in the case. A motion filed by the operator indicates that it and the board of selectmen began discussions to identify critical areas of the rejected plan so it could ultimately reach some level of approval for productive use of its property.
About 20 Lebanon residents and activists protested Eastern Concrete Material’s request to swap land in Sussex County for 34 acres in the Hagedorn Preserve, which is next to its current quarry, in order to expand operations, the Hunterdon Review reports. In September 2012, the state Department of Environmental Protection approved its application to divert 275 million gallons of water per year from a nearby potable well and two quarry ponds, with the surface water being used for washing and dust suppression. If approved, the permit would run through June 30, 2022. Currently, the company is allowed to divert less than 3.1 million gallons per month. Michael Guida, senior project manager for the operator’s Aggregates Division, told the newspaper that they anticipate using the same amount of water to control dust. Residents expressed concerns about the impact on groundwater, and the Water Authority extended the deadline for comment.
Part of State Route 516 near Dover collapsed in late November. According to wtov9.com, Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) officials say a rapid drawdown of a nearby sand and gravel operation is the culprit. ODOT District Deputy Director Lloyd MacAdams said that an operation about 150 feet from the road was dredging and started a drawdown that just continued to draw down. The collapse took a portion of the road down more than 50 feet, exposed a gas line, and sunk utility poles. Officials told the television station that the road may be closed until the spring. “I’ve worked for ODOT 16 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this,” MacAdams said. “This is a very unusual situation. You would never think this pond would make it to the state route.” A representative for the family-owned business told Fox 8 WJW that they were thankful there were no injuries, and praised their team for taking control of the situation and contacting authorities to keep the public out of harm’s way.
The Highland Companies’ proposal for a mega-quarry that would be one-third the size of Toronto met its demise as Highland principal John Scherer told The Toronto Star that lack of government and community support have led the company to continue farming the land rather than developing a mine there. Approximately six years ago, Highland President John Lowndes began buying property in Melancthon Township. Locals began to organize opposition to the project before the company submitted its 3,100-page application to the Ministry of Natural Resources in 2011. Thousands of letters of objection were submitted to the project, which would have resulted in the largest quarry in North America. Food-based protests, spearheaded by the head of the Canadian Chefs Congress, drew tens of thousands of people to events such as Foodstock and Soupstock. Once the provincial government ordered a full environmental assessment, the first for an Ontario quarry, the operator abandoned the quarry project and Lowndes stepped down as president of Highland.
Whitehorse city officials put their plans for the Stevens Quarry, a five-pit, 295-acre sand and gravel operation, before the Yukon Environmental and Socioeconomic Assessment Board, but some neighbors of the proposed site are not happy, according to the Yukon News. A study of the area indicates reserves of at least 3.08 million cubic yards of sand and gravel. The city began plans for the site in 1994, but put them on hold until 2010 when the city and the Yukon government signed a contribution agreement for the planning and design work for the operation. Currently, there are 13 quarries operating in the city limits, but many of those are reaching the end of their life.
Woolwich Township is facing larger-than-budgeted expenses for its Ontario Municipal Board battles regarding gravel pits. The Elmira Independent reported that its 2012 fees, through Sept. 30, 2012, were $146,000 — $121,000 more than budgeted. In 2012’s budget deliberations, councilor Mark Bauman had argued for a higher allocation, noting that the township spent $40,000 on OMB hearings during 2011. Dan Kennaley, director of planning and engineering, said that $25,000 was a placeholder for an amount that couldn’t be accurately estimated.