State and Province News

Therese Dunphy

February 3, 2015

The Napa County Planning Commission will meet on Feb. 18 to continue its review of a request to expand Syar Quarry. According to the Napa Valley Register, the operator wants to expand its 497-acre operation by 124 acres and increase annual production from 1 million to up to 2 million tons. The commission held a three-hour meeting in January with people speaking for and against the proposal. Aggregates from the site has been used in recent area projects including the widening of Highway 12 in Jameson County, earthquake repairs, and the Napa flood control project. County Public Works Director Steven Lederer said county road construction benefits from the operation and, without it, materials would have to be brought in at a greater cost.

Vulcan Materials Co. acquired four quarries, including the Pilarcitos Quarry from West Coast Aggregates. The Half Moon Bay Review reports that Vulcan bought the operation as part of a $320 million expansion focused mainly in the Western states. The Pilarcitos Quarry received approval for a 70-year expansion plan that would allow it to expand the operation to 147 acres in 2013. West Coast Aggregates co-owner Dick DeAtley told the newspaper that his decision to sell was partly driven by his desire to retire.

The San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission delayed until Feb. 5 a decision on a proposed 243-acre quarry to be operated by Las Pilitas Resources LLC, The Tribune reports. In January, the commission heard four hours of public comment regarding the proposed Santa Margarita quarry. Commission Chair Ken Topping said the panel would consider the arguments presented by all parties — for and against the operation — after members had a chance to “digest” all of the information.

A Superior Court judge ordered activity at Midwood Quarry in Tolland to stop because of “blatant disregard” for regulations. According to the Journal Inquirer, the local director of planning and town engineer inspected the property and found several violations, including depositing fill to widen the access drive and other regrading on the site without necessary approvals. Officials also determined that an “excessive amount of fill” had been brought onto the site and said they found wetlands violations. The cease-and-desist order was issued to Midwood Quarry and Construction Inc.

City Councilman Michael Julian Bond formed a committee to redevelop Bellwood Quarry into Atlanta’s newest park. WABE reports the 300-acre site will be used for concerts and festivals. The committee’s current challenge is to determine how to balance the interests of the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation with the Department of Watershed Management, as the quarry is also expected to become a reservoir for drinking water. The site, formerly owned by Vulcan Materials Co., has also served as the backdrop of the television show The Walking Dead.

According to WCSI, North Vernon officials are considering the purchase of a quarry owned by Hanson Aggregates. Mayor Harold Campbell told the news outlet that the city is considering the purchase because it would offer a 220-day supply of water for the city. The state Department of Transportation may also take a portion of the property for a new U.S. 50 bypass. He also noted that there is a disagreement on the property value between the city and the operator and said the bypass acquisition could also impact the site’s value.

A day after Rogers Group withdrew its quarry proposal from the Tippecanoe Board of Zoning Appeals, it filed a lawsuit against the county, naming the county, county commissioners, the zoning board, the Area Plan Commission, and the building commissioner as defendants. WISH reports that the lawsuit alleges commissioners don’t have the power to ban quarries near residential areas as they did in July 2014. It also says the company’s operation should have been grandfathered in before the ordinance took effect because it had already received several permits for the project. Next, the lawsuit claims the Tippecanoe County Unified Zoning Ordinance, which requires a special exception for mining, violates state code by preventing it from exercising its leased mineral rights. Finally, the lawsuit claims the county took property from the company without compensation.

A ruling by a state Land Court gives new life for a proposal to build an asphalt plant adjacent to the Fletcher quarry in Westford. According to the Lowell Sun, the Planning Board refused to grant special permits and a site plan review to Newport Materials LLC and 540 Groton LLC in 2010. It ruled the plant was not “light manufacturing,” which zoning bylaws allow. The judge ruled that Newport Materials has four weeks to file a modified plan and the board has an additional four weeks to decide the application. The judge required several modifications to the project, including incorporation of sound barriers, and noted that “it is difficult to imagine a more suitable location for the construction of an asphalt plant than where Plaintiffs propose to build it, nor a more economically optimal use of (the site) than the processing of the products of the next-door quarry.”

New Mexico
Officials with the town of Edgewood attempted to get an injunction to prevent blasting at Bassett Quarry, the Mountain View Telegraph reports. The local mayor sent attorneys to the state District Court to file an injunction, but the town failed to get the injunction and blasting took place as planned. The mayor said previous blasting had caused property damage in the past and said, “there should be some awareness as to when these activities occur. There should be a proper notification and awareness to the public prior to that type of activity.” The quarry’s blasting permit allows for two years or 10 blasts.

South Carolina
Limestone College graduate Virginia Skinner dedicated a historical marker to the college, to recognize the significance of the college’s quarry. According to The State, stone from the quarry was used in construction of the Washington Monument. During the unveiling ceremony, the college president highlighted portions of the quarry’s history, which also included providing lime for the production of iron during the American Revolution. The college acquired the quarry before the Civil War, then sold it to pay debts in 1883. “The quarry needed to be recognized because it has such a history,” Skinner said.

Two families with properties near a recently approved sand and gravel mine in Caroline County have filed a lawsuit against the county board of supervisors, the property owners of the approved mine site, and the operator. The Freelance-Star reports the lawsuit includes four counts. One says the special-exception permit exceeds Caroline’s local government authority. A second count says that the 34th of 35 conditions attached to the permit, a savings or severance clause, violates the county’s zoning ordinance. A third count claims the proposed use is not compliant with the Chesapeake Bay Resource Protection Area limitations. A fourth count claims that “noise levels will interfere with the use and enjoyment of their property and harm their legal interests.” Decisions in similar lawsuits in the area have been decided in favor of the local government and property owners.

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