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Lehigh Draft EIR Up For Public Review Thursday

Residents will voice opinions Thursday night in light of numerous environmental concerns.

A long-list of air, water and land concerns will most likely greet Santa Clara County planners on Thursday night, when residents get their first chance to review and comment on the hefty 583-page draft environmental impact report for Lehigh Permanente Quarry’s latest reclamation plan amendment.

Over the past year Lehigh Southwest Cement has been at the center of controversy as local groups have called out the company for air emissions, water discharges, and disputed land usage. The company's operations are also at the center of at least three lawsuits.

Expect those issues to come up at the meeting at 7 p.m. in the , 10185 N. Stelling Rd., Cupertino. The entire draft EIR is accessible at the county’s website; hardcopies are available at the Cupertino, Los Altos and Saratoga libraries.

The draft EIR covers a reclamation plan amendment for 1,238 acres of the 3,510 acres owned by Lehigh just outside of Cupertino, and near Los Altos and Los Altos Hills. The goal of the reclamation plan is to reclaim topography and vegetation disturbed by mining operations, which have been going on for more than 80 years. The company’s original reclamation plan was approved by Santa Clara County in 1985.

According to the report, over the next 20 years the company will continue mining limestone, while over time reclaiming the land by using unused crushed rock from the West Materials Storage Area (WMSA), a ridge which mainly faces Los Altos Hills, to backfill the main 265-acre quarry pit.

The plan outlines how Lehigh will stabilize the slopes of the quarry pit, which has experienced occasional slides over the years. Slides that occurred more than 10 years ago, but never repaired, were part of the argument by the state’s .

by suing the Department of Conservation, which includes OMR. The case is ongoing.

Also in the reclamation plan is a proposal to include the 75-acre East Materials Storage Area (EMSA) within the reclamation area boundaries. EMSA has been particularly controversial in the last few years. Citizen complaints of a growing rock pile within view of Rancho San Antonio Park led to notices of violation being issued by Santa Clara County to Lehigh, for dumping materials in EMSA without a permit.

. The decision meant the company would not have to seek a new land use permit for EMSA, which Lehigh critics argued would have meant the company would have to follow more stringent rules than those under the reclamation plan. 

Other changes proposed in the amendment include reclamation of the 53-acre crusher/quarry office support area, an 8.8-acre surge pile, a 19-acre rock plant, and a 19.5-acre exploration area south of Permanente Creek.

The plan also calls for reclamation of a 49-acre area surrounding the creek that would restore the creek channel and riparian corridor, and the designation of a 599-acre buffer of vegetation, where no mining activities would occur. 

Permanente Creek is another hot spot for Lehigh, which was recently for high levels of selenium and other toxins being released into the creek.

Besides Thursday’s meeting, the public will get another chance to voice opinions to the Santa Clara County Planning Commission at 1:30 p.m., on Thursday, Feb. 2 at the County Government Center, 70 W. Hedding St., San Jose.

Written comments are being accepted through Feb. 21. They can be mailed to the County of Santa Clara Planning Office, 70 W. Hedding St., East Wing, 7th Floor, San Jose, CA., 95110, Attention Rob Eastwood. They can also be emailed to rob.eastwood@pln.sccgov.org.

Frank Geefay January 25, 2012 at 07:29 PM
I feel that regulatory agencies such as Santa Clara County hold public meetings on draft proposals as a matter of law, not to hear what the public is concerned about. Few concerns from the public have ever resulted in substantial changes to these drafts. It is unfortunate that regulatory agencies do not put more value in the concerns of citizens for whom they are chartered to protect from commercial hazards and abuses. Those who have the most political clout and legal resources control these agencies. It all boils down to who holds the largest purse-strings. It's obviously not the public. But that should not stop the public from attending these meeting and expressing their concerns for the record.
Katheryn September 30, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Tell me does this sound familiar? I have provided a link to the Temecula Patch read the article and watch the video in the article. Now tell me what you think? Add the video to your facebook accounts so everyone can see what happens. Tell does this sound familiar, I have provided a link to a story on the Temecula Patch. Please read the story and watch the video in the story. http://temecula.patch.com/articles/citizen-reader-shares-mining-sounds
Frank Geefay September 30, 2012 at 06:57 PM
Hi Katheryn thanks for your posting of this link. There are Cupertino residents who live very close to the Lehigh quarry who are familiar with such sounds plus explosions and dust as a result of the mining excavation for limestone. Progress has been slow to get regulatory agencies to enforce noise, dust, and pollution regulations but headway is being made. See link about BAAQMD's new regulations for Lehigh Cement (Courier News): http://www.mercurynews.com/cupertino/ci_21648822/cupertino-air-district-approves-new-regulatory-rules-lehigh
Katheryn October 01, 2012 at 01:18 PM
Frank, thank you for your response and we need to keep the word going on the issue of toxic mining in California and residential areas. We all need to add the information to our Facebook and all social media. It seems as if big business trumps the health and safety of people in California. The builder of our homes is Castle & Cooke, aka Pacific Aggregates/Pacific Clay Products all owned by Dole's owner David H. Murdock. I have often wondered if he owns politicians and towns? Tell me does this sound familiar? I have provided a link to the Temecula Patch read the article and watch the video in the article. Now tell me what you think? Add the video to your facebook accounts so everyone can see what happens. Tell does this sound familiar, I have provided a link to a story on the Temecula Patch. Please read the story and watch the video in the story. http://temecula.patch.com/articles/citizen-reader-shares-mining-sounds
Frank Geefay October 01, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Katheryn, I don't know what part of the country you live but I live in Cupertino, Ca. where we have a Lehigh Cement plant and quarry immediately adjacent to over 700,000 people. I am a founding member of Bay Area for Clean Enviornment (BACE) and put up their website http://www.bayareacleanenvironment.org/ which I no longer manage. We have been fighting the cement plant of years and together with the Sierra Club have several ongoing lawsuits. One of our major problems has been that regional Land, Water, and Air regulatory agencies have been very supportive of the cement plant. Recently the Air Board (BAAQMD) seems to have changed it tone and imposed generally stricter rules on the cement plant than proposed by the EPA and are considering even tighter rules. It has been an uphill battle but the tide seems to be turning at last. Lehigh Cement is part of a multi-billion dollar international corporation, Hidleburg, based in Germany which as a lot of money, lawyers, and political connections. The Cupertino Patch has been very fair in its reporting of this issue. They have a special section "Lehigh Southwest Cement" with past articles about the cement plant issue and our efforts to fight their toxic pollution: http://cupertino.patch.com/topics/lehigh-southwest-cement Sound familiar?

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