National Quarries reclamation hearing continued to June 27
Last updated 5/1/2008 at Noon
Late comments from the state Department of Conservation caused the County of San Diego’s Planning Commission to continue a hearing on the National Quarries reclamation plan to June 27.
The reclamation plan was to have been heard April 18, but three days earlier the state agency submitted comments which all parties felt should be addressed.
The 60-day continuance will also give the Planning Commission the ability to look at various related elements.
“Another thing I’d like to see is the relationship of the project to the general plan update,” said Planning Commissioner Michael Beck, who also seeks to ensure that goal of the revegetation plan is to provide for the return of native vegetation rather than slope stabilization.
The reclamation plan, which was initially approved in 1979, was amended in 2002. The current proposed modification would bring the plan into compliance with current Surface Mining and Reclamation Act (SMARA) standards.
Mining at the site will continue until available resources are depleted, which is estimated to occur in approximately 75 years. “That’s out there a ways,” Beck said.
The reclamation, however, would occur in phases as portions of the final reclaimed surface are created by the mining operations. The reclamation would include final slope grading, reapplying topsoils, revegetation, and rock staining.
The completion of the excavations would create a nearly level pad of approximately 80 acres surrounded by quarry slopes, and any future development on the site would likely be limited to that level area.
Although future uses cannot be identified with certainty, the reclamation plan identifies material recycling as a potential use which would comply with existing zoning.
Mining at the National Quarries site in Bonsall began in 1940, which preceded laws requiring a permit for such activity. County aerial photographs taken in 1973 indicate that mining had taken place on all parcels of the 210-acre site by that time, providing a vested mining right for the entire site.
SMARA stipulates that a vested right to conduct surface mining operations prior to 1976 exempts the parcel from a permit for continued operations, although all mining activities after 1975 must be conducted in accordance with an approved reclamation plan.
Conditions proposed under the new plan include annual inspections with 24-hour notice and special inspections to investigate any suspected violations, installation of a groundwater monitoring well with annual inspections to address ongoing slope and groundwater conditions, and improvement of the access road.