Summit County Council stays decision
January 27, 2015
The Summit County Council recently decided to table an appeal to amend an existing conditional use permit that will allow the expansion of the Rockport Rocks quarry until more information can be gathered.
The county council cited complaints from nearby residents and insufficient information about impacts as a reason to stay the decision.
The Eastern Summit County Planning Commission unanimously voted in December to approve two amendments to the operating permit for Rockport Rocks quarry, located north of State Road 32, in Peoa. The amendments would double the work area and remove the daily limits on trucks traveling to the site.
Rockport Rocks Quarry requested the amendments to ensure it would comply and enable the quarry to operate in a more efficient manner, according to a County Courthouse staff report drafted in anticipation of the meeting.
"I’m doing everything I can to try and come into compliance," Rockport Rocks quarry operator Wes Siddoway said at the hearing.
On Dec. 18, the Eastern Summit County Planning Commission approved two amendments to the existing conditional use permit to allow for an increase to the work area from two to four acres and to remove the daily limit of trucks to the site, the report stated. The existing permit allows for 140 total trips per month.
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"We are doubling the site and I’m really concerned about this creating noise, which will cause you to come back before us," County Councilman Roger Armstrong said. "I would like to make sure we are making a reasonable decision here."
After the Planning Commission approved the amendments, a group of residents who live near the quarry appealed the decision. The appellants described an ongoing failure to adhere to existing restrictions on noise, dust and debris, visual impacts, and hours of operation.
The original permit for the Rockport Rocks quarry was issued on Nov. 7, 2012. It but was amended with 16 additional conditions in 2013, including restrictions on operating hours, and the dust and noise associated with loading the rocks.
After the quarry began operating, the county received several complaints that it was not complying with the conditions of the permit, the report stated.
"My concern is you came before us and made all these promises based on these conditions and I feel like you haven’t done that," County Council Chair Kim Carson said. "And I know that is not the purpose of this meeting, but moving forward, I have concerns about what will or won’t take place."
Residents near the quarry filed a complaint to the county on April 19, 2014, prompting county staff to work with the operators to ensure the quarry became compliant. County staff determined the site was in compliant in August.
"Let him show us he can operate within the scope and mitigate the impacts," Peoa resident Brooke Richins said to the County Council on Jan. 17. "Let’s not reward someone for continuously working outside the scope."
Richins and her neighbors continue to live with the adverse effects of the quarry without seeing any attempt to mitigate those impacts, she said.
"The Planning Commission has rewarded Rockport without listening to the neighbors," Richins said. "My experience with the Planning Commission has been anything but pleasant. Please don’t double the size."
Even with the decision delayed, the quarry will still operate under the terms of the existing permit.
Sean Lewis, a Summit County Planner, recommended that the County Council vote to uphold the amended conditions as approved by the Eastern Summit County Planning Commission.
"Staff has performed several inspections of the quarry site this past summer and was found by our code enforcement officer to be within general compliance," Lewis said. "The two-acre area, as approved, is not sufficient to get a truck up in and around to turn around and load. I believe the staff has acted in good faith to ensure the conditions have been met."
After more than an hour of discussion, County Council concluded they had more questions than answers.
"I would like to definitively see how big this quarry is before we expand it," County Council member Claudia McMullin said. "It also makes no sense to me what the evidence of the impact is. I think we should state this and since we don’t, we have no real basis to deny or grant this request."
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