State and Province News November 2012


November 1, 2012

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By Therese Dunphy, Editor-in-Chief




The City and Borough of Juneau heard an appeal of a proposed gravel pit and rock crusher in the Montana Creek area and is soon expected to make a decision on the case. According to the Juneau Empire, several homeowners filed an appeal to overturn a planning commission decision to approve a rock crusher proposed for their neighborhood. Their attorney argued that the crusher was not compatible with the surrounding neighborhood, that local code would only allow it if it is used to crush rock for a public road, and that the crusher would be a primary part of the business. The deputy city attorney testified on behalf of the planning commission, noting that “seven reasonable minds reviewed and deliberated on the evidence, they applied a reasonable interpretation of the law to that evidence, and they reached a unanimous, well thought-out decision.”




Beginning in January, a new policy will take effect in Maricopa County. The Arizona Republic reports that the county Board of Supervisors unanimously directed its staff to develop this policy, which is purported to make it easier for those seeking regulatory permits. The policy is expected to include more public hearings on proposed regulatory changes and to increase efforts to notify the public about meetings on “matters of interest.” The changes will impact businesses seeking permits through the county’s Flood Control District and the Air Quality, Environmental Services, Planning and Development, and Transportation departments.




At Aggregates Manager’s press time, Cemex was about to commission a 1 megawatt wind turbine at its Madison Quarry in Yolo County. According to the company, local utility provider PG&E would present a $1.8 million savings check as part of the commissioning ceremony. Expected to attend the event were Congressional candidate Kim Vann (R-Calif.); Karl Watson, Jr., president of Cemex USA; Luis Farias, Cemex’s senior vice president of energy and sustainability; and Matthew Wilson, CEO of Foundation Windpower, which develops, finances, constructs, owns, and operates wind projects.




Cemex sent a letter to the Fresno County Board of Supervisors asking that they reconsider signing off on the environmental review for its project near Jesse Morrow Mountain. The Fresno Bee reports that company spokesman Sara Engdahl indicated the report cost more than $1 million to prepare. In an e-mail, she noted that “Fresno County’s failure to certify the most comprehensive and expensive EIR (environmental impact report) in Fresno County history is legally incorrect and establishes a troubling precedent.”




In mid-September, someone entered Vulcan Material Co.’s Plainfield site and stole two copper welding leads with an estimated value of $555 each. The Plainfield Patch reports that a company truck was also damaged when someone attempted to pry off the handles to gain entry.




A Spring Bay Village Board committee submitted a report that detailed ordinance violations, environmental issues, and suggested remedies at a former mine there. According to the Journal Star, that report could lead the board to approve a long-debated agreement which would allow Dwayne Atherton to purchase the property, reclaim the land, and mine adjacent property he and others own. Some of the violations included setback issues, as well as breaches of contract regarding fence lines, signs, and berm construction.




A team from the Indiana Geological Survey is beginning the final phase of a three-year study to assess the bedrock in western areas near the Brown County line and now wants to expand the project to include all of Bartholomew County. “In terms of geology, Bartholomew County is under-mapped,” research scientist Walter Hasenmueller told The Republic. “We are talking with an individual who might come into the project to map the unconsolidated glacial sediments in eastern Bartholomew County and the river valley under Columbus.” He added that the shale deposit in New Albany, which is 120- to 130-feet thick, is a possible source of petroleum.




The Scandia City Council voted 4-1 that the environmental review of Tiller Corp.’s proposed pit was adequate. According to the St. Paul Pioneer Press, the company wants to reopen a pit just east of Minnesota 95 and Minnesota 97 that has not been mined since the 1980s. The dissenting council member said he was concerned about truck traffic from the mine. Tiller began the process to reopen the mine four years ago when it requested a permit from the city. A public hearing on its permit application could be held as early as Nov. 7.




Mark Sand and Gravel was extensively damaged during a fire near its asphalt holding tanks, the Fergus Falls Daily Journal reports. Fire Chief Mark Hovland estimated a high-dollar loss and said that motors and piping on some of the equipment will likely need to be replaced. Firefighters arrived on the scene on Sept. 24 after a pipe outside one of the tanks caught fire. Some of the material in the tank fell to the ground, and the petroleum-based material quickly led the fire to spread.



New Hampshire

The former 92-acre Twin State Sand and Gravel parcel will soon become the Iron Horse Business Park. According to The Union Leader, Lebanon city planners approved final subdivision plans for a large industrial, office, and retail development. Ten lots will be developed for industrial use, and Twin Sand and Gravel has already submitted a site permit application for those acres. The development has been in the review process for three years.



New Jersey

Whether 109 acres of pine forest property are protected or available for rural development is at the heart of a permitting battle near Patriot’s Park. Ashbury Park Press reports that representatives from Peg Leg Webb LLC received preliminary approval for its proposed mine from the township planning board this summer. They hope to mine 33 acres of the property, but environmentalists and neighbors are calling for a halt to the project, claiming the area is habitat to endangered and threatened species. At issue is whether the property is part of the protected Toms River Corridor. Following a 2004 study, Jackson officials designated the area as protected forest, but that decision was overturned in a 2007 Superior Court decision. Based on the court decision, the township designated the lot as ready for rural development, however Jackson’s master plan has not yet been certified by the Pinelands Commission, a regional environmental board that oversees development and preservation on nearly 1 million acres in seven South Jersey counties.




According to The Register Guard, the Springfield Utility Board (SUB) is fighting plans for an 80-acre gravel pit that would abut its groundwater well field, just outside the city limits. Officials say the mine could present a significant contamination threat to its Willamette well field, which supplies more than 40 percent of the city’s water. Knife River, which is proposing the project, disagrees, and several members of the Springfield City Council are asking for more scientific proof that the proposed mine would pose a threat to SUB’s well field.




A man was taken to the hospital after experiencing a foot injury at Erie Sand & Gravel, the Erie Times-News reports. Emergency crews were called to the site on a report of a workplace accident. The worker, whose name was not immediately released, was unloading I-beams from a semi truck when one of the beams rolled off the truck and landed on his foot.




The Spotsylvania County Sheriff’s Office charged two 17-year-olds and a 16-year-old with 11 counts of larceny and 11 counts of vandalism stemming from incidents in the Stoneybrooke subdivision and at the Luck Stone Quarry. According to the Fredericksburg Patch, the crimes were committed over a five-month period and “started with a major vandalism at the Luck Stone Quarry in which these three juveniles are accused of vandalizing building and equipment causing over $50,000 worth of damage.”




Fairmount Minerals announced that it will increase production at its Maiden Rock operation to 1 million tons per year. According to the company, a new wet plant recycles virtually all process water, while a new sand dryer runs on cleaner-burning natural gas instead of propane. The rail loadout area is located farther away from the village of Maiden Rock to reduce the community’s industrial activity. The site produces Northern White sand used for hydraulic fracturing.




The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) came under fire from residents at a recent meeting of the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board, the seven-member body that sets policy for the DNR. According to The Leader-Telegram, all but one of the 16 residents who spoke at the meeting cited concerns about silica sand mining. The top concerns were air quality and fugitive dust. Although the DNR monitors the emissions from sand plants, critics claimed that the level of monitoring was inadequate. No one from the industry spoke at the meeting.



Province News

Preston Sand & Gravel’s interest in a proposed pit near Jigs Hollow Road will not impact upcoming mediation, the Elmira Independent reports. Dan Kennaley, the township director of planning and engineering, noted that the township’s legal advice indicated that Preston Sand & Gravel’s interest in the pit — owned by Kuntz Topsoil, Sand & Gravel — wouldn’t create any new issues regarding mediation. He also took exception with a local resident’s claim that mediation would only cover the severity of the operation’s impact, not its approval. He noted that mediation could reduce the overall length of an Ontario Municipal Board hearing, in the event that the township failed to reach an agreement with the operator.

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