Locals Seek to Block Quarry, Asphalt Plant

     MADERA, Calif. (CN) – The development of a hard rock quarry and “hot mix” asphalt plant in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada will have “dire impacts on the area’s water supply, sensitive wildlife, traffic, and rural quality of life for decades to come,” residents of Madera County claim in Superior Court.

     The Madera County Board of Supervisors approved a plan to develop a rock quarry pit that residents say could allow huge quantities of the area’s groundwater to escape, substantially reducing water supplies to neighboring property owners.
     The environmental impact report for the project relies heavily on “grouting,” a method of sealing off fractures as they are exposed by excavation of the quarry, to reduce the amount of groundwater that will escape into the pit.
     But there is no evidence that the method will be effective, especially over the 50-year life of the project, according to the Bates Station Neighbors, a group of residents determined to fight the development.
     “Long after the project applicant has made his money and moved on, the quarry pit and its associated impacts on the neighbors’ water supply will remain,” they say.
     The impact report also doesn’t consider other sites that wouldn’t endanger the quality of life for locals, the complaint says. Residents say the project will also reduce the value of the land, though the county board dismissed local real estate brokers’ testimony supporting that claim as “anecdotal.”
     The project would also be noisy and would endanger already threatened species, such as the California tiger salamander, according to the lawsuit. The board of supervisors allegedly “refuse to consider” these problems.
     The project would extract up to 900,000 tons of aggregate material annually, generating as many as 341 round-trip truck trips per day, the complaint states.
     The residents seek an order preventing the county from moving ahead with the project and forcing the board to vacate its approval.
     The county and its board are accused of violating planning and zoning laws, the county code and the California Environmental Quality Act.
     The residents are represented by Tamara Galanter with Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger of San Francisco.

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