Santa Margarita quarry ruling again postponed
January 9, 2015
The San Luis Obispo County Planning Commission again made no decision Thursday on a mining proposal for rural Santa Margarita that is dividing neighbors and county residents.
Longtime Santa Margarita residents Mike Cole and Steve Souza are applying for a conditional use permit that would allow them to construct the infrastructure for and to operate a 41-acre quarry. Cole and Souza are seeking to produce a maximum of 500,000 tons of rock annually on a property along Highway 58 about three miles outside of Santa Margarita.
On Dec. 11, the planning commission held its first hearing on the project. More than 200 people attended the meeting, and public comment lasted four hours.
About 50 additional speakers addressed the commission on Thursday. As with the first hearing, speakers at Thursday’s meeting split about evenly for and against the quarry project.
Much of the debate over the project surrounds potential truck traffic. County planning staff says the quarry could generate up to 273 truck trips a day, but project manager Ken Johnston says the maximum number of daily truck trips would be about 200.
Opponents of the project argue that the trucks would create noise, endanger children at a nearby school, increase traffic and impede bicyclists. Proponents of the quarry argue that it is environmentally cleaner to produce aggregate locally than to truck it in from a distance.
In early December, the Santa Margarita Area Advisory Council voted 11-6 in favor of the quarry. County planning staff, however, recommended denial of the conditional use permit, saying the economic benefits of the project do not override the environmental impacts.
A ruling on the project could come at the planning commission’s Feb. 5 meeting when it will resume discussions on the quarry. Any decision for or against the quarry will likely get appealed to the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors.