Montana Producer Faces New Zoning District
According to KXLH, the Lewis and Clark County, Mont., commission approved a set of land use regulations for a new zoning district in the Helena Valley. Special Zone District No. 51 covers about 389 acres.

Commissioners created the district after a majority of landowners in the area asked for additional zoning. Since then, the county has worked on a neighborhood plan for the district, and a set of regulations to support that plan.

The county’s Planning and Zoning Commission recommended the regulations move forward at a hearing Sept. 21.

The new zoning rules came about after Valley Sand and Gravel announced plans for a gravel pit in the area. Neighbors said the mining operation wouldn’t be compatible with a largely residential area, and they were concerned about possible impacts on neighboring wells, as well as on local property values.

Valley Sand and Gravel filed an application for an opencut mining permit in 2019. Earlier this year, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality outlined what it described as “deficiencies” in the company’s plan and said it would not issue a permit until they submitted an updated application.

Washington Quarry Expansions Under Review
According to, proposals to mine rock from three sites in Skagit County, Wash., have neighbors on edge. Skagit County Hearing Examiner Wick Dufford is reviewing a mine proposal for an area south of Anacortes, Wash., that would increase the footprint of the mine from 17.7 acres to 53.5 acres, according to project documents. It would allow the pit to produce 60,000 tons of material a year over a 60-year period, and the material would be hauled from the site in up to 13 trucks per day.

The state Department of Natural Resources has decided to extend a comment period for a mine proposal near Marblemount, Wash. The plan is to remove 1.2 million tons of material over about 20 years at a property called the Cascade Big Bear Mine. The proposal is in the vicinity of where Skagit County Planning and Development Services received a proposal in January 2019 from Kiewit Infrastructure to establish a 79-acre rock mine, which was withdrawn in September 2019.

A third proposal, for mining in an area northwest of Sedro-Woolley, Wash., is under review by Skagit County Planning and Development Services. Concrete Nor’west proposes converting a 68-acre wooded area into a mine. The company estimates it would haul 4.3 million cu. yd. of gravel from the site over 25 years, which could result in an average of 46 truck each day.

Each has been met with concern from residents who live near the sites. Concerns are over the health of the residents, which could be impacted by noise and dust, as well as the safety of those who would share roads with trucks hauling mined material.

East Rockhill, Pa., Seeks Inactive Quarry Rules
East Rockhill, Pa., officials unanimously approved a resolution asking the state legislature and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to require inactive quarries keep a scale onsite to weigh trucks hauling out stone, according to the Courier Times. Permit rules currently require active quarries keep a scale on-site to weigh loaded trucks, but inactive quarries can be weighed elsewhere, according to township officials.

“Although active quarries with daily operations are meticulous about the weight of material leaving the site through the use of an on-site scale, non-active quarries are not subject to the same documentation,” the resolution stated.

Non-Coal Surface Mining permits administered by the DEP can be maintained by inactive quarries if they can show they met the minimum annual benchmark of 500 tons of stone removed annually. That’s how a 140-acre quarry owned by Lehigh Hanson, an Allentown-based subsidiary of HeidelbergCement was able to re-open, which has caused much community concern and years of contentious discussions.

While the resolution is only a first step towards reforming permitting rules, the quarry has reportedly become a well-known issue for local General Assembly members. State Sen. Steve Santarsiero (D-10) of Lower Makefield, has been critical of the quarry for about as long as the residents and township have been fighting its recent mining. Santarsiero went so far as to called on the DEP to permanently close the quarry in due to the asbestos found there.

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