A final public hearing on a proposed mining project near Temecula will go ahead, as scheduled, Tuesday, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors decided today, during a specially convened meeting called after two members indicated they might have a scheduling conflict preventing them from attending.
“I regret if … (this) has caused any inconvenience for board members or the public,” said Supervisor Jeff Stone, who along with Supervisor Marion Ashley announced Wednesday that he might have to be in Washington, D.C. the same day of the hearing on the Liberty Quarry.
“I hope you will understand,” he said to a group of concerned residents who showed up for today’s special meeting.
According to Stone, county officials were abruptly informed that federal transportation officials had made time Tuesday for a meeting that they had been seeking for more than a year regarding funds for infrastructure projects, including major improvements to the Riverside (91) Freeway.
Stone and Ashley intended to lead a delegation to Washington, making it impossible for either of them to attend any part of Tuesday’s final hearing on the proposed quarry. Stone’s district encompasses the area where the 414-acre mine would be situated.
Stone and Ashley were able to find replacements for the Washington trip, with Stone selecting Corona Mayor Eugene Montanez to appear in his stead.
“This will allow us to maintain our rigorous schedule and continue with the quarry meeting,” Stone said.
Hundreds of people attended hearings on the rock mine on Jan. 30 and Feb. 6 at the Riverside Convention Center. Watsonville-based Granite Construction’s will have the opportunity on Tuesday to respond to some of the allegations made by quarry opponents.
The hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. at the County Administrative Center, 4080 Lemon St., Riverside.
Granite is seeking a 75-year operating window, during which it plans to remove an estimated five million tons of construction-grade aggregate — gravel and sand — from escarpments just north of the boundary separating Riverside and San Diego counties, east of the Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve and west of Temecula, adjacent to Interstate 15 and Rainbow Valley Boulevard.
The company says the operation would result in 300 direct and indirect jobs, as well as more than $300 million in annual tax receipts for the county and localities.
Opponents argue the quarry would result in noise, pollution, drainage and habitat changes that have lasting repercussions. Additionally, members of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians say the project threatens sacred cultural sites.