UPDATE: The Madera County Board of Supervisors approved the proposal Monday night with a 3 to 2 vote.
Hundreds of Madera County residents turned out to voice concerns and support over a proposed gravel mine. Vulcan Materials said the more than 600-acre site will provide needed rock and gravel for construction for 50 years.
The proposed Austin Quarry would take up nearly 700 acres on the southwest corner of Highways 41 and Highway 145. The site is about 12 miles east of the city of Madera and opponents have concerns, especially about water.
There was an overflow crowd inside the government center in Madera County where supporters of the quarry were dressed in blue T-shirts and opponents in red. About 150 people from both sides spoke out about their concerns, with the majority of those opposed feel the mine will deplete their water wells.
“I’m afraid the quarry is going to drain our domestic wells in Madera Ranchos, Bonnadelle Ranchos, and wells for five miles,” resident Jay Quick said. “Anytime you put a 400-foot pit in the ground, that’s a lot of acres, it acts like a well and the water runs into it.
“It is a big concern with all of the big trucks going down Highway 145 and 41 and no required improvements right off the bat,” resident Shawn Summers said. “Big safety concern.”
Vulcan Vice President Mike Linton said traffic will be reduced because gravel trucks will not be coming from far away.
“We’ve done exhaustive studies to show traffic is not going to be an issue,” he countered. “Actually, traffic will not change. If you need aggregate, you are not going to change, you are going to import that aggregate.”
He also disputes the idea the mine will suck water from wells and said the mine will replace any water it depletes.
“Anything that comes out of the ground we are required to put it back into the ground,” Linton said.
And the quarry has many supporters, Like Rochelle Dozier.
“I think it will be a good thing for our community, it will help our water, they are planning on building an aqua filtration,” she said. “It will bring money to our community it will bring more jobs. I really do support the Austin Quarry.”
Madera County is expected to see a financial benefit, but the supervisors are facing vocal opposition.
|Chowchilla News Day
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