Opposition remains vigilant in what is shaping up to be the second fight over a proposed gravel quarry east of Santa Margarita.
An evening meeting Monday held by the San Luis Obispo County planning department to hear concerns over the project drew a standing-room-only crowd of more than 100 residents at the Santa Margarita Elementary School. There were many concerns.
How much water would be used at the site, the quarry’s effect on property values, impact to air quality and the substantial increase of truck traffic rumbling through town were among the more common points discussed.
Opposition to the project is “just as strong as before, if not more so,” said Pat Zimmerman, whose home is about a quarter mile from the proposed site along Highway 58. “People are saying, ‘How come?’ We’ve already gone through this. That’s the feeling I got.”
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The Las Pilitas Quarry project was originally rejected by the county in 2015 when a divided Board of Supervisors voted to uphold a Planning Commission decision denying the project.
Any victory celebrated by rivals was short lived.
Project backers reapplied for permits after Supervisor Frank Mecham, who often served as the board’s swing vote, was replaced in November with John Peschong, who had expressed support for the rip and blast extraction pit that would remove 500,000 tons of material a year for decades into the future.
The permit approval process will essentially start over, this time with revisions to the old environmental impact review to include updated traffic information, as well as an alternative that would give the county the option to downsize the size and scope of the project.
“The proposal is a conditional use permit for the identical project as the one before and on the same site,” said county Senior Planner Airlin Singewald. “However, when they applied for this permit, they also asked the county to evaluate a reduced project alternative.”
The proposed project would disrupt 41 acres for quarry activity and demand 5,000 gallons of water each day.
The alternative option would reduce the maximum number of daily truck trips from 136 to 50, restrict trucks from driving through town, reduce the maximum amount of blasting from 20 to 12 times a year and scrap a recycling plant that was part of the original plan — unless county decision makers accept the original, full-size plan.
Comments about the scope of work for the revised environmental impact review are due to Singewald by Aug. 28. They can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to ATTN: DRC2016-00115 976 Osos Street, Room 300, San Luis Obispo, CA, 93408.