Quarry developer to receive $13M Seeks blasting approval


Last updated 8/2/2007 at Noon

If the prediction of Granite Construction Company Senior Manager Gary Johnson is accurate, three permits required to begin blasting at Rosemary’s Mountain 1.3 miles east of I-15 will be received within a couple of months. Upon receipt of the permits, his company will move forward with construction of the first leg of a 10-mile, four-lane highway from I-15 to the casinos. If permits are not received by the middle of October, an environmental window concerning bird migration and nesting will close and construction will be further delayed.

Permits were first requested to operate a quarry at this location in 1987. The Board of Supervisors approved the permit 10 years later and issued one in 2002. The environmental organization RiverWatch filed a lawsuit challenging the permit because of the possible contamination of the San Luis Rey River, but it was ultimately struck down by an appellate court decision.

The Pala Band of Mission Indians and the County met recently and negotiated an agreement, expected to be ratified this week by the Board of Supervisors, in which the Pala Tribe will pay San Diego County $38 million to widen and improve roads from I-15 to their casinos. The first $13 million was designated for Granite Construction for the section of highway from I-15 to the Rosemary Mountain quarry entrance. An additional $20 million was provided to CalTrans for work on SR-76 further east to Pala Casino and $5 million was designated for highway improvements at Pala.

Additionally, the tribe agreed to pay other compensation to the county to include $200,000 for a deputy sheriff unit, $150,000 for gambling addiction treatment programs, $15,000 annually for criminal prosecution processing and $6,000 for a District Attorney Liaison Project.

In exchange for the above payments for road improvements, Pala Casino will receive authorization from the San Diego Board of Supervisors to expand their casino by 98,058 feet.

Blasting for the Rosemary Quarry entrance could conceivably begin in the next 45 to 90 days, according to both CalTrans and Granite Construction. If so, says CalTrans representative Sam Aman, no aggregate could be used for resale during this phase of construction. Those with concerns about the road construction or who would like more information may contact Aman at (619) 718-7835.

Some of the residents of Lake Rancho Viejo just south of the quarry have reportedly expressed concerns about noise, air quality, traffic problems and possible damage to delicate household items such as crystal. Aman estimated that road construction for that section will take approximately two years and anticipates blasting and road delays to be about two hours taking place around midnight.

Granite Project Manager Gary Johnson also estimated short delays but expects blasting to take place during daylight hours. He thinks the project could be done in nine months.

“We’re anxious to get started,” said Johnson. “Northern San Diego County and the Temecula/Murrieta area need this aggregate.”

Fallbrook Design Board representative Jim Oenning, a resident of Lake Rancho Viejo, said he has no sympathy for his fellow residents, who were told of the proposed quarry when they bought in homes in the development. “Even after moving there, very few took any action or supported organizations like RiverWatch that fought it,” he said. “Let them weep and wail and reap their just reward! I’m sorry, too bad! Next comes Liberty Quarry.”

RiverWatch President Sheila Manning remarked, “This is one of the worst projects ever conceived for Fallbrook. Our concerns for Fallbrook residents remain air quality [cancer-threatening conditions], noise, traffic congestion and an overall decrease in the quality of life.”

On the concern that these projects may have an adverse effect on the lives of North County residents, Oenning stated, “It’s all about the money. CalTrans is the largest customer of Granite Construction. They need the aggregate. They are willing to sacrifice us…and our loved ones for what they need.”


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