After years of study and public input, a draft environmental review of a proposed quarry east of Santa Margarita has been released.
According to the EIR draft executive summary, Las Pilitas Resources LLC is seeking approval to excavate granite aggregate on 48 acres within a 234-acre site off Highway 58 four miles east of Santa Margarita. More than 100 acres will be left as open space.
The draft identifies significant impacts that can’t be mitigated: aesthetics affecting views from eastbound traffic on Highway 58; noise related to blasting and quarry operations; noise levels due to heavy truck traffic along 58; and air pollution, according to Air Pollution Control District criteria.
The report notes that 500,000 tons of aggregate to be used in Portland cement concrete would be quarried each year, requiring anywhere from 198 to 273 truck trips on Highway 58 each day. The life of the quarry, if a use permit is issued by the county, will be anywhere from 25 to 58 years.
“For many other issues,” according to the draft report, “potential environmental impacts are identified in the EIR along with mitigation measures that will reduce effects to a level below what is considered significant.”
Steve Souza and Mike Cole, owners of Las Pilitas Resources, recently mailed out a four-color brochure to residents from as far south as San Luis Obispo to Atascadero to the north explaining the project and seeking input. (The brochure is at odds with the county’s numbers regarding size of the operation, saying, “the project spans a total of 203 acres, of which only 60 acres will be utilized.”) Their position on four “key issues” maintains that traffic and safety on Highway 58, noise, air quality and water use can be addressed successfully by the time the final EIR is released.
Planning for the project got off to a rocky start when Benchmark Resources, originally chosen to conduct the EIR, was dropped in April 2011 after members of Santa Margarita Area Residents Together and members of Santa Margarita Proud protested that the firm was a “mining industry consultant.” The San Luis Obispo County Department of Planning and Building subsequently became the lead agency on the EIR under the auspices of the California Environmental Quality Act.
Eight local and state agencies were consulted and will review the final EIR.
The draft is open for review and comment to May 20. Written comments should be submitted to Murry Wilson, county Department of Planning and Building, 976 Osos St., Room 300, San Luis Obispo, CA 93408-2040. The draft can be found at this location.
The Planning Commission is slated to hold a public hearing on the proposal at its Sept. 26 meeting in the Board of Supervisors chambers in the County Government Center, 1055 Monterey St., San Luis Obispo.