The Riverside County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to consider Tuesday whether to fast track the revised Liberty Quarry Project.
As per the published agenda for Nov. 6 board of supervisors meeting, District 4 Supervisor John Benoit is recommending the board award the fast-track process for the project near Temecula that's being brought forward by Watsonville, Calif-based Granite Construction.
Granite’s original 414-acre Liberty Quarry just south of Temecula was voted down 3-2 by the board on Feb. 16. Supervisors John Benoit and Marion Ashley supported the mining operation while Supervisors Bob Buster, Jeff Stone and John Tavaglione opposed it.
In the meantime, supervisors voted 3-2 to add surface mines to the list of projects that can bypass the county's planning commission and head straight to the supervisors for consideration -- a process known as fast-tracking. Buster and Stone were the dissenting votes.
At about the same time that fast-track approval was garnered, Granite returned to the county with a scaled-down version of the Liberty Quarry project for the same location near Temecula.
In recommending that the board approve on Nov. 6 fast tracking the revised quarry project, Benoit wrote a memo stating the revised quarry project will “further reduce truck trips, associated pollution and degradation of roads throughout much of Riverside County” – issues that were problematic for supervisors the first time around.
Benoit also argues in the Oct. 29 memo that the quarry would create new jobs and generate more than $25 million in taxable sales annually.
The City of Temecula, along with some outspoken residents, has vehemently opposed the quarry project. The city has filed a lawsuit against the county alleging that certification of the Environmental Impact Report for the mining operation is invalid. The challenge contends the county erred because the EIR certification came after the project was denied.
County counsel and attorneys for Granite say the city's facts and current position are wrong. An agency can approve or reject at EIR independent of its decision whether to move forward with a project, the attorneys argue.
The next hearing in the matter is scheduled Nov. 14 at the Riverside Superior Courthouse.