Brisbane quarry campaign heats up

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Both sides accuse the other of public misinformation

BRISBANE — Charges of misinformation are being lobbed by both sides in the fight over a proposed redevelopment of the Guadalupe Valley Quarry.

On Nov. 7 Brisbane voters will vote on Measure B, which would allow 173 residential units along with a community facility, public park and open space, among other things, at what is now the Guadalupe Valley Quarry.

A heated campaign has emerged due to the project’s size and potential environmental impact in the area.

A main point of debate has centered on a 1991 property agreement between Brisbane and California Rock & Asphalt to build a business park at the site. A subsequent 1995 San Mateo County surface mining permit includes the business park proposal as part of the reclamation plan should the quarry close.

The “NoQuarry Housing” advocates believe that the 1991 agreement — as reflected in the 1995 surface mining permit awarded by San Mateo County — has capped the amount of rock that can be extracted at roughly 6.4 million tons, which the quarry is approaching, and the quarry would be non-compliant if it extracted more than that. Operations will have to cease at the quarry if Measure B is not approved, they argue.

Michele Salmon, the co-chair of the campaign against Measure B, said the 6.4-million-ton limit was listed in the surface mining permit and holds the quarry accountable.

“(California Rock & Asphalt) wants us to approve this so they can get more profit out of the mountain,” Salmon said. “I don’t think it’s an economically viable business anymore.”

Those in favor of the development project tucked under San Bruno Mountain, however, say the 1991 agreement, which called for 6,455,014 tons of rock to be removed to provide the proper elevation for the proposed business park, is “irrelevant,” namely because a project application for a business park was never filed.

Brisbane City Attorney Hal Toppel said that what everyone “seems to be missing” is that if the agreement to build a business park at the quarry is not implemented then the 6.4-million ton cap can be changed, as stated in the mining permit.

“For someone to vote ‘no’ because they think it will close the quarry, that is simply not a justifiable assumption at this point,” Toppel said. “As far as I’m concerned, the property agreement has not been implemented because no action has been taken to proceed” with the business park.

Project advocates add that while technically the conditions of approval in the 1995 surface mining permit still stand and they’re beholden to not withdrawing more than 6.4 million tons, there’s an understanding with the county and state that until the end-use of the quarry, either development or continued quarrying, is determined, a new permit and reclamation plan is not needed.

Mignone Wood, a land-use consultant specializing in quarries who works with California Rock & Asphalt, said the permit is currently still valid and the quarry is still bound by the conditions of approval — the 6.4 million tonnage — but added that the quarry is still compliance with the permit.

She called the number “irrelevant” because the county is currently letting the permit “float” until the end-use, a residential development or continued quarrying, is decided Nov. 7. If the measure fails, the quarry will simply seek a new permit with an updated reclamation plan.

“What I’m very frustrated about is I want the voters of Brisbane to vote on a project where the facts are represented,” said Owen Poole, a project consultant.

dsmith@examiner.com

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