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Granite Construction gives tours of proposed quarry to residents

 

Last updated 2/1/2007 at Noon



A hike in the picturesque hills of Southern Temecula can be a calming experience. It is not surprising that when offered an opportunity to take a group hike through the rain-carved monoliths and swaying chaparral that surround Temecula, residents would take it. What may be surprising is that the company offering the tour, Granite Construction Company, is in the process of trying to turn the area into a granite quarry.

The proposed quarry, which Granite Construction will call Liberty Quarry, has been a hot topic among Temecula residents since 2005, when Granite Construction applied for the permits needed to operate in Riverside County. Granite hopes that giving these tours will help the public see things their way.

“They were very candid and knowledgeable... they run a first-rate company,” said Ed Sibby, president of the Temecula Valley Educators Association. He attended the tour on Tuesday, January 16, to both Granite Construction’s Indio aggregate plant and the site in Temecula. He was sent on the tour by his association to make an assessment on which they could base their official position.

Many residents are concerned that the quarry may affect local wildlife, air quality and traffic congestion. Robbie Adkins and Pam Grender, Temecula residents and SOS-Hills members, attended the tour and voiced their concerns to Granite Construction representatives. They fear that the quarry will lie directly on the path that protected mountain lions use to cross from one side of the freeway to another. They are also concerned about the air pollution it will create, especially located in such an area plagued with high winds.

Granite Construction is currently waiting for the results of the Draft Environmental Impact Report, or Draft EIR, which will let them and the public know what their impact on these things will be. The City of Temecula has hired a separate company that is independent of Granite Company to investigate the quarry’s impact and ensure unbiased results.

“The purpose [of creating the Draft EIR] is to come up with the appropriate mitigation,” said Gary Johnson of Granite Construction as he held out a map showing the future layout of the quarry for those attending the tour to view.

After the completion of the Draft EIR, it will be open for public viewing and comment for two months. The county will then hold hearings to set conditions under which the company will be permitted to operate, and then with these changes the final version of the EIR will be created. Lastly, the county will vote on whether or not to grant a permit to Granite Construction.

Granite Construction promotes the ways in which their business could benefit the region. In a press release, they state that they will pay $41 million to Riverside County in revenue/developer fees, as well as $300 million in sales taxes over the life of the project. They did not indicate what the expected life of the project is.

Traffic congestion is a point of contention between Granite Construction and anti-quarry residents. Granite Construction claims that it will take 500 trucks off the road in Temecula, because the trucks that would normally use I-15 through Temecula to pick up aggregate further north and then pass through Temecula again on the way back to San Diego will now only need to come to Temecula’s southern tip. SOS-Hills, the most vocal anti-quarry group in Temecula, states that the quarry will create 1,400 truck trips daily that will enter and exit I-15 through Rainbow Canyon Road.

Granite Construction representatives showed the citizens in attendance a detailed map of where the different parts of their operation will be located and why. They discussed their safety rules and the regulations they need to follow and the punishments for infractions.

Granite Construction has had 21 notices or violations in the last two and a half years, according to Johnson. “The were for things like not labeling the generators correctly… or not filling out paperwork right,” said Drew Erikson of Granite Construction. “It’s like getting a fix-it ticket. You just have to fix it, or they shut down your whole operation.”

 

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