ACT 250 Update in the Works in Vermont

Legislators and members of the Act 250 Commission are drafting new legislation to “protect the environment from potentially harmful business practices,” according to the Rutland Herald. The six legislators of the Act 250 Study Committee took the past year and a half to complete a report on the original Act 250 drafted in 1970 and study how Vermont’s environmental and commercial business needs have changed.

The committee recommended that farming, logging and forestry not be eligible for an exemption below 2,500 ft. if they came anywhere near a “critical resource area,” and it also recommended the removal of the Act 250 exemption for quarries and quarry owners.

Criterion 10 of Act 250 states that every quarry must apply for a permit to operate, and the quarry must adhere to the town plan and zoning laws unless it falls under the 1995 special-interest legislation exempting quarries registered by Jan. 1, 1997.

Any quarries that are grandfathered in under that legislation would not be subject to requirements on the depth of the quarry, how it affects wells, what the explosive weight needs to be and other provisions of Act 250 land use.

The report also includes the stipulation that quarries would be allowed time to acquire required Act 250 permits.

Utah Bill That Would Limit Regulation Sparks Controversy

According to the Salt Lake Tribune, critics of a bill that would limit the ability of cities and counties to regulate gravel pits contend that its House sponsor, Morgan County rancher Logan Wilde (R-Croydon), has an undisclosed conflict of interest because he is leasing land to a quarry operator.

Wilde reportedly owns a one-fifth interest in the 17,000-acre M.R. Wilde & Sons Ranch, according to public disclosures on file with the Utah Legislature. Not disclosed is the ranch’s lease agreement allowing Holcim Inc. to use land adjacent to its limestone quarry, known as Devil’s Slide, which the cement maker hopes to expand.

Wilde acknowledged his ranch’s arrangement with Holcim but said the Devil’s Slide quarry extracts limestone for cement production, not sand and gravel.

North Carolina Asphalt Plant Permit Denied

A crowd of roughly a hundred opponents of a proposed asphalt plant in Madison County, N.C., applauded a resolution opposing the facility, according to the Citizen Times. The resolution, approved by the Marshall’s Board of Alderman with a unanimous vote, outlines a list of reasons the proposed plant could detrimentally impact the “beauty, livability and financial prosperity of the town.”

The asphalt plant, a project proposed by French Broad Paving, would occupy a space at the McCrary Stone Service Quarry outside the city limits and more than a mile from downtown Marshall, N.C.

The fate of the plant is not yet sealed, however. According to Mayor Jack Wallin, the permit proposal will head to the Madison County Zoning Board of Adjusters, where a quasi-judicial hearing will decide whether or not the permit gains approval.

Colorado Project Includes Quarry Concerns

According to the Boulder County News, the staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recommended approval of a hydropower licensing amendment that Denver Water needs in order to move forward with its planned expansion of Gross Reservoir, which would be the largest construction project in Boulder County, Colo., history.

Potential effects of the project are broad ranging. They relate to issues ranging from transportation and traffic, to quarrying, removal of wildlife habitat, recreational resources and air and water quality.

In issuing the recommendation for approval, the federal commission’s staff stated the final environmental impact statement produced nearly five years ago had identified “adverse effects of Denver Water’s proposed construction activities, including effects associated with quarrying of rock to supply material for increasing the height of Gross Dam,” and that those would occur primarily during the four-year period of construction and refill.

However, it added, Denver Water’s revised plans, calling for use of an onsite quarry at Osprey Point on the reservoir’s south side “would result in reduction of those unavoidable adverse effects, although some effects would be more localized with the use of the new quarry location.”