The bad news:
In spite of our sound legal arguments, compelling letters from concerned residents, and well framed comments presented today before the Board of Supervisors, the quarry’s request to amend their permit to allow the importation of recycling materials was granted by the Board of Supervisors. The quarry, represented by counsel, revealed their legal argument for the first time. Of course, we did not have our attorney present to counter that argument as forcefully as could have been, and our plea to delay the decision for our counsel to appear was ignored.
The good news:
Nonetheless, there is some good news to report: The permit must be renewed in two years if the quarry wishes to continue asphalt recycling and, in a surprise move, Supervisor Susan Adams recommended that the conditions prohibit renewal unless the quarry has completed all studies that were required as conditions of the operating permit and reclamation plan. Her recommendation was stated as motion and was seconded and unanimously approved. Supervisor Adams, clearly wrestled with this issue. Her four colleagues on the Board all voted to support the quarry’s proposal. Her vote could not change the outcome.
What this means:
In September, 2010, the Board of Supervisors approved the quarry’s Amended Quarrying Permit and Reclamation Plan. The Coalition argued that all studies concerning mitigations needed to be complete before the permits could be granted. However, the quarry was given one year after the issuance of the permit to complete the studies. Since then, the County granted the quarry delays so, as of now, the quarry has still not provided two important studies: a greenhouse gas reduction plan or the economic study for water quality in the quarry bowl. At long last, the quarry will have some pressure to do these studies. Completion of the economic study for water quality in the pit will determine how much it will cost for the quarry to circulate water in the pit once quarrying operations cease and the side of the bowl is breached to allow it to be filled with bay water. The cost will be used to determine the amount of the bond the quarry must post. The size of the bond is important since, should the quarry go bankrupt again, the County (i.e. the taxpayers) will be left with a huge liability in the event the quarry fail to complete its Reclamation Plan.
In 2010, the Coalition waived the right to challenge the legality of allowing the issuance of the permits prior to completion of the studies in exchange for a commitment from the quarry to provide the materials for the repaving of Pt. San Pedro Road with sound mitigating asphalt. Hopefully we will soon have our repaved noise-mitigating roadway.
Today, however, was not a good day for those who live near the quarry and who insist that it be made to operate within its legal limits. It seemed the Supervisors did not understand how nonconforming uses should be regulated under the law (under the law, they cannot be intensified or expanded), and County counsel was unable or unwilling to explain it to them. The precedents established today, if allowed to stand, will haunt residents of this area in the future when the economy has recovered more fully and new road and levee projects get launched. If the quarry is operating at levels we have seen in the past and engaging in asphalt recycling as well, we will see more traffic, extended hours, and more impacts. That is why we must do all we can to see that the action taken today by the Supervisors is overturned.
Our issue is primarily a legal issue and we plan to continue to work with our attorney, John Edgcomb. At this time, we intend to go to court to request an order stopping this unlawful intensification of the quarry. If we do not, then there will no longer be a clear line as to what the quarry can and cannot do at their site.
We are grateful to all of you who wrote to the Supes, spoke out at the hearing, and attended today to show your support.
Pt. San Pedro Road Coalition