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 firstname.lastname@example.org.