Riverside Co. commission still undecided on proposed quarry

Mercer 19537

Steven Cuevas/KPCC

Santa Margarita River flows through heart of the 4,600-acre Ecological Reserve near Temecula

Another marathon public hearing over a proposed granite quarry near Temecula has come and gone with no action from county planners. Operators of the 135-acre Liberty Quarry hope to chisel deep into the foothills a few miles south of the city.

Riverside County commissioners say they need to convene at least one more public hearing before they decide whether to approve the quarry. Workers would blast and crush rock for use in cement.

Quarry officials spent most of this week’s hearing refuting criticism and reiterating claims that the project will generate lots of jobs and taxes.

“The project would employ up to 99 people and supply a very important and needed source of aggregate," Project Manager Gary Johnson told KPCC’s Larry Mantle the morning after the most recent hearing. "San Diego County has to import a large amount of it from Western Riverside County, Banning, Beaumont. There’s even talk of bringing it in by barge, all of which creates way too much greenhouse gas emission.”

Critics say Riverside County staff endorsed an environmental impact study the company paid for. They also worry about the project’s impact on the adjacent 4600-acre Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve.

“The reserve is operated as living laboratory for research and education," San Diego State University biologist Matt Rahn says. Rahn is the reserve’s field manager. "And so what we’re trying to do is maintain the identity and integrity of that living libratory and the type of research that’s been going on for the last half century.”

Riverside County planning commissioners have scheduled another public hearing on August 15th at Rancho Community Church in Temecula.

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