Clarification: An earlier version of this story didn’t fully explain who would own a proposed quarry in Santa Margarita. Mike Cole and Steve Sousa, who have jointly formed the company Las Pilitas Resources LLC, would be the operators of the proposed quarry in Santa Margarita if the project is approved.
After four additional hours of public comment Thursday on a controversial proposed rock quarry in Santa Margarita, the San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission once again delayed a decision on the project, continuing the issue to Feb. 5.
Thursday’s discussion was continued from a Dec. 11 meeting and drew a packed audience yet again.
The roughly 50 public speakers were evenly divided for and against the quarry proposed at 6660 Calf Canyon Road, north of Highway 58.
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Commission Chair Ken Topping said that the panel will consider the information presented by the applicant, staff and public and then formalize its findings.
“We’ve been saturated with information that I think we may need to digest, and it’s unlikely we can do that before 5 p.m.” Topping said at about 4:30 p.m. before the commission voted to continue the discussion again.
The applicant, Las Pilitas Resources LLC, is seeking a conditional use permit to allow the mining of 41 acres of a 234-acre site. The project would yield a maximum of 500,000 tons of granite gravel per year.
The proposal also calls for the site to be reclaimed after its estimated 30-year life span, which would involve replanting to restore it to rangeland.
Traffic has been a key consideration in the discussions, with an estimated 273 truck trips per day at peak production through the community of Santa Margarita.
Supporters of the project argued in favor of its economic merits and supply of infrastructure materials.
Opponents expressed concerns over traffic, air pollution, noise and additional environmental impacts, including the eyesore that will result from removing hillsides visible from Highway 58.
“We would be losing, traumatically, an important, beautiful site,” said Lindsey Mitchell, who coordinates a nature program in the area.
Speakers in support of the project argued that the granite gravel would help supply the demand for roads, bridges and other infrastructure, and contribute directly to local communities.
“As a contractor, I realize you can’t build anything without aggregate,” said John French. “If you limit sources of supply, you will drive up price. Things will be very expensive for everybody else in the area.”
Commissioner Jim Irving questioned whether the production would result in 273 truck trips per day on average, and county planning staff said that number was based on the applicant’s maximum production and required by law to be estimated based on a worst-case scenario.
Commissioner Don Campbell said he believes an average of around 170 trips per day is more accurate based on how much the quarry could produce and the promise of the applicant to used shared truck space for hauling recycled materials and gravel granite product.
If approved, the quarry would be operated by Mike Cole and Steve Sousa of Las Pilitas Resources LLC.