The Liberty Quarry project has been planned for south of Temecula for at least seven years, and for just about as long, it has been contested by locals.
Granite Construction Company may soon come one step closer to realizing its long-term goal. A hearing regarding a scaled-down verision of the project has been tentatively been set for Dec. 11 before the Riverside County Board of Supervisors.
A county staff report on the project will be posted on the Riverside County Planning Department website at least 10 days before the hearing, which is tentatively scheduled for 9 a.m. in the Board of Supervisors chambers on the first floor, 4080 Lemon St. in Riverside, according to an advisory issued by a county spokesperson.
On Nov. 6, the Board—with a 3-2 vote—narrowly approved fast-track status for Granite Construction.
The goal of the board's revised fast-track policy is to have a project vetted and voted on in 90 days in the interest of job stimulation and economic growth.
With fast-track status, the project could move forward to the board, rather than have to be brought before the county Planning Commission.
The Nov. 6 supervisors' meeting was held a day after a Riverside judge struck down the city of Temecula's petition for a temporary restraining order against the Board's vote.
Temecula city council is scheduled to meet in closed session Tuesday to discuss two ongoing lawsuits against the county in its attempt to keep the quarry away from the city's southern boundary.
Opponents of Liberty Quarry believe the pit would produce health-damaging levels of silica dust, mar area aesthetics, ruin rural peace, add to road congestion and permanently alter landscapes that the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians consider sacred.
Orignally planned as a 414-acre site, Granite Construction is now seeking fast-track approval, promising:
—Establishment of a proposed $0.20 per ton fee that will generate $92 million in new revenue for Riverside County of which an estimated $61.3 million will be paid by San Diego County users;
—30 percent reduction in life of the project (25 fewer total years);
—20 percent reduction in maximum truck trips per day (160 fewer truck trips/day);
—25 percent reduction in maximum aggregate production over the life of the project (reduced from 235 million to 174 million tons over the life of the project);
—20 percent reduction in annual production (1 million fewer tons per year);
—30 percent reduction in mining depth (300 feet); and
—Mining activity will be restricted to daylight hours only.
Supervisor John Benoit has stood by his position that the mine has countywide benefits, such as increasing the supply of construction-grade aggregate—asphalt, gravel and sand—closest to the areas that need it most in Riverside and San Diego counties.
Supervisor Jeff Stone, whose third district includes Temecula and Murrieta, has consistently voted against the quarry.
"This issue has divided our board significantly, and I regret that it's happened," Stone has said.
—City News Service contributed to this report