Hanson Permanente Cement may shift its plans for a controversial new quarry pit after it drew mountains of criticism.
"At the request of the community, we are now considering an alternative site on the property for exploration, which is farther away from the Cupertino neighbourhood," said Marvin Howell, a Hanson Aggregates West land-entitlement and realestate director, in a statement. He did not elaborate.
During two meetings held in June and July, local residents complained that the new pit would move the noise, dust and other pollution of the mine closer to homes.
The meetings were held to take public input on the environmental impacts of the new pit, which is included in a proposed amendment to nearly triple the size of Hanson’s reclamation plan to 917 acres.
State mining law requires a reclamation plan for areas disturbed by mining. It specifies how the company, bought in May by Germany’s Heidelberg Cement AG for $15.8 billion, must return the land to a usable condition when mining is finished.
The pit may be relocated farther to the north, said Mark Connolly, a Santa Clara County planner working on Hanson’s application, noting that he has not seen any definitive proposal.
Connolly said that the environmental impact report required to approve the amendment is held up indefinitely until Hanson applies for a county planning commission hearing to determine whether the company has a vested right to mine without a permit in the proposed new pit, as it claims.
"Because they’re going into an area where it wasn’t originally recorded that there was an intention to mine, they have to prove that there was an intent to mine there (prior to the passage of the State Mining and Reclamation Act of 1975)," said Connolly; otherwise they would need a permit. "The onus is on the applicant."