State and Province News March 2011
To keep up to date with this breakdown of news in the
United States and Canada, visit www.AggMan.com for daily updates.
Limestone Creek Sand and Gravel, LLC, applied to the Huntsville Natural Resources Department for an air permit for a proposed plant on Newby Road. According to al.com, the Natural Resources Department’s preliminary report is that the plant’s proposed controls would meet all applicable city air pollution control regulations. The deadline for public comment had not expired at Aggregates Manager press time, but a public hearing was to be scheduled if enough comments related to air pollution and its effects were received.
The Maricopa County Air Quality Department agreed to a $1 million settlement with Fisher Sand and Gravel Co. with part of the fine being invested into the community. KPHO.com reports that the department charged the operator with violating multiple air pollution laws over a 2.5-year period. The settlement agreement stipulates a portion of the enforcement fines will fund air quality outreach and education in the community. “Fisher Sand and Gravel is relieved to finalize this settlement and to move forward with a clean slate,” company spokesman Karl Gentles told the television station. “Fisher is a different company today than it was two to three years ago. We have made great strides with our environmental compliance and significant operational improvements.”
Azusa residents overwhelmingly voted in support of Vulcan Material Co.’s mining plan, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reports. In a special election, the measure passed by a more than 2-to-1 margin. “We have always been…committed to working with the community, and these election results are an example of what can be accomplished when a community works together,” Vulcan spokesman Peg Casey told the newspaper. “Clearly, the voters have spoken.” Opponents of the plan successfully placed a referendum item on the ballot for the special election after the city council approved the plan in a 4-1 vote last July.
The Union County Zoning Appeals Board tabled action on a permit application for a portable asphalt plant. The Palladium-Item reports that Dave O’Mara Contractor Inc. purchased a 22-acre site from Tri County Sand and Gravel to serve as a local site for its asphalt plant, but the company’s permit request drew a standing-room-only crowd when it went before the zoning appeals board. The property is zoned for agricultural use and would require a variance for the plant. Amy O’Mara Boswell, vice president of the company, told the newspaper that she would sell the property if the company did not receive a variance for it.
When he campaigned for office, Smithfield Sheriff Bobby Davidson announced plans to get a canine to help the six-man department detect drugs in its 360-square-mile county, WPSD reports. Once elected, he found out the county didn’t have the funds to purchase the $2,000 dog or the ancillary equipment. He secured community donations to fund the purchase, with the largest donation — $3,000 — coming from Pine Bluff Sand and Gravel Co. Sales Manager Jeff Thomas told the sheriff his company was glad to partner in keeping the community safe.
A new report, Future Mobility in Maryland: Meeting the State’s Needs for Safe and Efficient Mobility, finds that state roads that are congested, deteriorated, and not as safe as they could be cost the average Baltimore area motorist $2,226 each year, while Washington, D.C., drivers lose $2,296 annually — a total of $7 billion statewide. The report, released Feb. 1 by TRIP, finds that 44 percent of Maryland’s major roads are in need of repair, more than a quarter of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, more than half of the state’s urban roads are congested, and Maryland’s rural traffic fatality rate is more than double that of all other roads in the state. According to the TRIP report, 26 percent of Maryland’s major roads are rated in poor condition and an additional 18 percent are in mediocre condition. Seven percent of the state’s bridges are structurally deficient and 19 percent are functionally obsolete.
The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) determined that an environmental impact study is not needed as part of Elam Sand and Gravel’s special use permit application. According to 13wham.com, the company has already taken steps to reduce noise by agreeing to build berms on the property close to neighboring houses, as well as to limit truck traffic to four to 20 vehicles per hour. The matter will go before the West Bloomfield Zoning Board before the DEC has the final say on the project. The television station reports that the DEC could issue a special use permit for the sand and gravel mine as early as April.
Wyoming Construction Materials’ application for a permit to mine sand and gravel, as well as to operate a hot-mix asphalt plant and a concrete batch plant, raised air quality concerns for residents in the greater Buffalo area. The Buffalo Bulletin reports that resident concerns center largely on dust issues, as well as the proximity of neighbors. The company requested a permit to mine up to 400,000 tons per year. Chuck Falkenstein, the operation manager, told the newspaper that the company would like to mine 800 acres of the 1,100-acre property. Wetlands and hilly areas of the property would not be mined, but boundaries between active operations and neighbors would be larger than some neighbors anticipate.
The state’s mining business has declined by nearly half since 2006, Jasper Stem, executive director of the North Carolina Aggregates Association, told The Mecklenburg Times. From November 2009 to November 2010, the industry lost 5,000 jobs, or 13 percent of its workforce. “We’re at near-Depression Era levels of performance for this country, and for Charlotte in particular,” Martin Marietta Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Anne Lloyd told the newspaper. “We have had to adjust to match the demand in the construction sector.” Stem noted that, while he thought the area was recession-proof, companies with multiple operations were only running a single site and moving crews around. Lloyd emphasized the importance of SAFETEA-LU reauthorization: “I’m not sure people fully appreciate the importance of getting the construction industry back to work,” she said. “Until you get that sector back to work, you are not going to get the country back to work.”
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) hopes to reclaim 20 acres of Alley Park as a campground by 2014, according to the Lancaster Eagle Gazette. The parcel was mined for sand and gravel by two companies, the now-defunct Blazer Materials Corp. and Shelly Materials Inc. The latter producer reclaimed the land, added a retention pond, and planted trees, but the former company did not reclaim the land. An ODNR representative told the newspaper that only about 2 to 3 percent of mining permits result in forfeiture, and that number continues to decline. The state agency hopes to complete its reclamation efforts through grant funding.
Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker is suing his own city’s Board of Adjustment for reversing a ban on sand and gravel mining by Ralph Smith Trucking Co. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the suit names the board, the trucking company, and the owner of the mine property. It calls for a reversal on the board’s Dec. 23, 2010, ruling and asks that the trucking company be denied the right to mine sand and gravel. The city contends that it sent the trucking company notification of a zoning violation in 2005, and the company didn’t appeal it. In 2008, the city’s zoning administrator ruled that the property didn’t “enjoy a legal non-conforming mining and excavation use.” After that notice, the trucking company appealed. A hearing had not been scheduled at press time.
In late January, several truck drivers parked their semis in front of the Parkways Authority headquarters in Charleston as a sign of their opposition to tolls on U.S. 35. According to The Charleston Gazette, the drivers and area business owners told the Parkways Authority board that a toll road would hurt commerce and force truckers to bypass the tolls by using separate routes. John Thompson, who owns a sand and gravel company in Mason County, told the newspaper that if his truckers were forced to pay $8.50 each time they stopped at one of the two proposed tollbooths on U.S. 35, he’d have no choice but to lay off workers.
A regional aggregate study in British Columbia has stalled due to lack of funding, the Kelowna Capital News reports. The Regional District of Central Okanagan is now looking for other ways to prioritize gravel pit applications that have been repeatedly denied. The most recent mapping of geologic resources in the area took place in 2001. Regional partners contributed approximately $60,000 toward the study with the expectation that industry and senior government would also contribute, but neither group wanted to fund the study. A similar study in Fraser Valley also stalled when regulators realized how long it would take to receive nearly $250,000 from individual mining permits. One regional official noted that an interim policy was necessary to address the permitting issue until federal gas tax funding is available. He noted that the region could not put applications on hold for another 18 months to two years.