October 1, 2013
by Therese Dunphy, Editor-in-Chief
To keep up to date with this breakdown of news in the United States and Canada, visit www.AggMan.com for daily updates.
Suchocki Sand and Gravel had some scary visitors in early September, when it hosted the inaugural Zombie Charge. NorwichBulletin.com reports that the 5K run was different than many events due to its obstacles and mud pits. In addition, “zombies” chased runners as they navigated a corn maze, hiked hills, and crawled toward tunnels. If the zombies captured the runners’ flags, they were “infected.” As participants arrived at the event, they were immediately transported to the aggregates operation, which had been transformed into a “doomsday scenario” complete with men in hazardous materials suits directing traffic and bloody zombies.
Bluegrass Materials Co. is seeking a variance to allow its Forsyth County quarry to operate at 75 decibels, 15 decibels higher than the county code permits. According to NorthFulton.com, the operator held a meeting with community residents to address concerns and explain its reasoning for requesting the sound variance. An attorney for the operator explained that the request was needed because the quarry had been in an area zoned as agricultural, so it wasn’t subject to the 60-decibel residential noise limitation. The attorney said the operation isn’t seeking an increase, but needed the variance to continue operations, and ambient noise generated by the new development was impacting noise levels at the site.
At the end of August, work to reopen the Zavoral sand and gravel mine in Scandia had begun, according to the Star Tribune. Tiller Corp. said the 40-month project will involve mining and reclamation on 64 acres of the 114-acre site. Although the project was considered to be controversial, the Scandia City Council unanimously approved the project in February. The permits include restrictions negotiated with conservation groups and include prohibitions on frac sand production. The first stages of activity will include removal of overburden and preliminary grading, the company said. It then plans to mine 1.2 million tons of gravel.
A nearly five-year long battle to open a quarry in Anderson Township has no end in sight. Cincinnati.com reports that Martin Marietta first sought permission to build an underground limestone mine in August 2008. Since then, the township Board of Zoning Appeals approved a conditional-use permit, which included nearly two dozen conditions; its decision was overturned by a Hamilton County Common Pleas judge; the 1st District Court of Appeals ruled that one of the zoning board’s conditions — a “good neighbor fee” that required Martin Marietta to keep a $ 1million bond and pay the township 5 cents per ton of material sold or delivered from the site — was illegal; and the township Board of Zoning Appeals declined to rule on many of the issues in that appeal. On another appeal, the township board again approved the proposed mine, but without the fee. The case was once again appealed to the Common Pleas Court, and a motion was filed to dismiss Martin Marietta’s earlier appeal to the 1st District Court.
Discussion of conditional-use permits (CUPs) at a recent Butler County Commission meeting drew comments from a landowner about a quarry operating near his property. The El Dorado Times reports that landowner Tony Newman described the operation as “grandfathered in inappropriately as a quarry.” He also said that other neighbors recalled the operation being dormant for more than six months at a time, which would vacate its status as a grandfathered site. “Those gravel trucks blow that stop sign 100 percent of the time,” he told commissioners. He asked them to investigate his concerns.
The town of Westerly and the local school district are partnering to perform environmental tests on the Bradford Elementary School property. According to The Westerly Sun, the school is located near Copar Quarries’ operation. The school and city are working with an environmental engineering firm to perform tests in the neighborhood around the quarry to ensure air quality. One of the engineers told the newspaper that it will install air quality monitoring devices at the quarry and in the surrounding neighborhood. The operator will not be notified when tests will be conducted, and testing devices will be videotaped to prevent tampering. The state branch of the American Lung Association is also monitoring the quarry. An attorney for the operator told the newspaper that the plant is committed to being a good neighbor, and officials are doing everything “they possibly can to comply with state and federal regulations.”
Coldspring, formerly Cold Spring Granite, agreed to an extension of its conditional-use permit review until Dec. 31, the St. Cloud Times reports. The community’s zoning board of appeals is currently reviewing the operator’s permit application to open a new 30-acre granite quarry and processing area at its site, where it currently operates on 210 acres. The zoning board held a public hearing in August to discuss the request, but then tabled the item to have more time to review the application. It is expected to consider the application at its Oct. 15 meeting. The operator and the city “will continue to develop materials in response to issues raised during the public hearing” the paper reported, with information being made available on the city’s website.
The communities of Grandfalls and Imperial are experiencing a longer commute from one to the other. According to CBS 7 News, a rut in the road led to the closure of a bridge between the two towns. The former 5- to 10-minute commute now takes approximately 30 minutes. No timeline has been set for the repair of the bridge.
The Utah Bureau of Land Management (BLM) decided to withdraw the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry from its scheduled oil and gas auction after doubts surfaced about whether the property was available for mineral development. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the tourist destination was covered in three parcels identified for auction, but public comments noted that the quarry was unavailable for leasing under the BLM’s own planning documents.
According to the Post Crescent, attendees were able to participate in the 15th Annual Quarry Quest, a family event held at Michels Materials’ quarry in Neenah on Sept. 14. The event, sponsored by Michels Materials, Miron Construction, FABCO Equipment, and Operating Engineers Local 139, offered a number of new activities for families, including: pebble picking, where kids could dig through a pile of pebbles to create their own rock collection; stones in the field, an educational session about how aggregates are used in homebuilding and road construction; circle of asphalt, where kids raced Big Wheels around an asphalt speedway; lime time, which allowed participants to explore the various uses of lime; and what’s next, which outlined various ways mines are reclaimed.
The Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board voted to deny permits to allow the Bridgeport frac sand mining project to take place within the Riverway boundary. Swnews4u.com reports that the board voted 6-2 against the recommendation of the organization’s executive director, Mark Cupp, to deny permits requested by Pattison Sand Co. and four area landowners. The decision reportedly affects 53 of Pattison Sand’s 305 acres. The operator also leases land from one of the landowners who made a request. Approximately 80 of the 222 leased acres are also impacted. The board heard more than two hours of testimony on the permit request, with only the owner of Prairie Sand and Gravel speaking in favor of the permit.