State and Province News May 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
The town of Gurley will be in court once again on its long-time lawsuit with M&N Materials, al.com reports. The decade-long battle started when two developers began to purchase land for a quarry. When the town learned of the plans, it held a referendum and annexed the property, zoning it for agricultural use. This effectively forestalled quarry development. Last December, the state supreme court reversed a $5 million judgment against Gurley, saying that the town’s steps toward the property did not amount to a taking. Town officials have repeatedly said Gurley would be “exploring bankruptcy options” if unsuccessful on its appeal. Both sides will now make oral arguments before the court on May 3.
Las Pilitas Resources LLC released a draft environmental review of its proposed 234-acre quarry near Santa Margarita. According to The Tribune, the draft report notes that more than 100 acres of the site would be left as open space. Approximately 500,000 tons of aggregate — intended for use in Portland cement — would be produced each year, with reserves of 25 to 58 years. The San Luis Obispo County Department of Planning and Building served as the lead agency for the report, after citizen groups protested that the firm originally selected to do it was a “mining industry consultant.” The comment period for the report ends on May 20, and a public hearing on the proposal is scheduled to be held on Sept. 26.
Graniterock is scheduled to host its Sixth Annual Construction Career Day on May 3 at its A.R. Wilson Quarry in Aromas. The event is designed for San Benito and Santa Cruz high school students and highlights career options within the construction industry. The day will begin with a tour of the quarry, followed by comments from Quarry Manager Peter Lemon. Finally, interactive presentations from more than 25 different professionals will address a variety of construction, engineering, science, and green building occupations.
Lehigh Hanson’s Mission Valley Rock plant in Sunol is the first aggregates production site to achieve the Energy Star Challenge for the industry, according to the company. In one year, it reduced its energy intensity by 12.2 percent. To do so, plant management and personnel at Lehigh Hanson’s technical competency center in Irving, Texas, completed a comprehensive review of its major systems, including crushers, conveyors, pumps, screens, feeders, fans, heating, air compressors, and more. Plant staff then used the findings to implement process improvements, energy optimization strategies, and equipment installations. Some production tasks were also shifted to reduce loads at peak times.
Vulcan Materials Co.’s two quarries in Bartow County received feature coverage in the Daily Tribune News, which noted the sites employ approximately 35 people and include about $5 million in capital investments. The newspaper noted that the two sites are currently producing about 1 million tons of aggregate between the granite and limestone operations.
Gene Stoppenhagen, of Bluffton-based Habig Trucking and Excavating, was the recipient of the 2012 Trucker of the Year award, presented by the Indiana Mineral Aggregates Association (IMAA). According to The Bluffton News-Banner, the award was presented during the IMAA Winter Workshops. The award recognizes one trucker for his work with a member company. Stoppenhagen was nominated by Joe Langel, operations manager of IMI Aggregates in Bluffton.
Stoneco’s Ottawa Lake Quarry in Whiteford Township received the company’s “Quarry of the Year” award for a fourth consecutive year. According to The Monroe Evening News, the award program evaluates quarries and assigns scores in safety, housekeeping, public relations, and performance. The operation won the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association’s Excellence in Community Relations Award and has gone more than 3,600 days without any lost-time incidents.
At Aggregates Manager’s press time, Filmore County board was expected to discuss the Rein silica quarry. According to the PostBulletin.com, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency requested the county board to determine if the quarry should be included in a regional study of quarrying. The study, conducted by the Environmental Quality Board, focuses on the environmental impacts related to Minnesota Sands LLC operations in several counties. Rein is seeking a permit to expand its silica sand operation from 18.6 acres to 50 acres and has already prepared an environmental report.
The St. Cloud City Council unanimously voted to move forward with Cold Spring Granite Quarry’s proposal to expand its operation near an elementary building and residential neighborhood. Wjon.com reports that the operator presented an environmental assessment worksheet to the council. Public hearings will be scheduled to gather feedback on the proposal.
At its May 7 meeting, the Bernards Planning Board is expected to vote on a resolution to recommend, with conditions, a reclamation plan for Millington Quarry. Nj.com reports that once that resolution is adopted, the plan will proceed to the township committee, which makes the final decision. The board has held more than a dozen public hearings on the plan and will include conditions such as ceasing to import additional soil into the quarry and limiting truck traffic used to import the soil.
In a 3-2 vote, Hamilton Township Board of Supervisors approved rezoning of 110 acres from woodlands to industrial. According to The Evening Sun, the rezoning vote clears the way for Specialty Granules Inc. to expand its quarry operations. One of the town supervisors told the newspaper that the issue came down to the environment versus jobs.
Copar Quarries of Westerly Inc. and Westerly Granite filed a $10 million lawsuit against the town of Westerly. The Westerly Sun reports the lawsuit alleges town employees conspired against the two companies and subjected them to unfair enforcement practices. The suit claims that zoning solicitor Jack Payne Jr., and town solicitor Michelle Buck instructed former zoning officer Elizabeth Burdick to not issue a decision that would have been favorable to the two companies. It also claims the two tried to prevent Burdick from testifying before the Zoning Board of Review. Burdick’s lawyer claims she was intimidated, slandered, and threatened by town officials. The lawsuit also claims that the town engages in unlawful behavior and singled out Copar and Westerly Granite when the town appointed Robert Craven as a special zoning officer. The suit says it robbed the two companies of due process.
At Aggregates Manager’s press time, Shelbyville city officials were meeting with their lawyers to discuss lawsuits brought by Wright Paving Co., Inc., and Custom Stone LLC. According to The Times-Gazette, the two businesses are suing the city, as well as the Board of Zoning Appeals, and planning commission. The $10 million suit alleges the groups are guilty of “violating due process, inverse condemnation, unconstitutional taking, negligence, and creating an unconstitutional ‘floating’ zone.” In an earlier ruling, State Appellate Judge Patricia Cottrell ordered the zoning board to consider Wright’s nearly decade old application “at the earliest possible date” and remanded the case back to a lower court to see if the company was entitled to legal fees. The zoning board will review the conditional-use permit and the commission was scheduled to consider Wright’s site plan at an April 25 meeting.
Blasting at Vulcan Materials quarry in Knoxville was featured in a report from the Knoxville News-Sentinel. A reporter interviewed Kirk Edblemon, a geologist contracted by Vulcan to monitor its blasts. Edblemon told the reporter that records he’s seen of blast are less than 25 percent of the allowable vibrations under standards issued by the federal Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation, and Enforcement. He told the reporter that seismograph use is not only useful for compliance monitoring, but that it also “helps the blasters design more efficient blast patterns. Their goal it so always put as much energy into the rock they’re trying to blast as possible.”