Quarry issues need to be addressed

Editor’s Note: This is a copy of a letter recently sent to the Madera County Planning Department and Madera County Board of Supervisors in regards to the proposed Austin Quarry on the southwest corner of Highways 41 and 145.

From the two meeting I have attended with others and the various documents I have read, Vulcan Material’s proposed Austin Quarry is possibly the worst project we have seen proposed in a very long time. There are so many issues that need to be seriously addressed. Our elected board of supervisor’s responsibility is to approve developments that help the people in Madera County. Developments should not be approved to only help a few investors, and at the same time hurt so many citizens who live, work, and pay taxes here in Madera. This is our home, this is where we live, we need water to live and we need a quality of life to stay.

Please note our concerns below.

No. 1 water: A 400-foot deep quarry would use 4,000 acre-feet of water per year for 100 years plus. How can this be justified when two major housing developments within just a few miles are currently on severe water rationing, plus there are approximately six or more new nearby major housing developments which are currently approved to be built? Is this Vulcan Austin Quarry going to be put on the same water rationing? If not, why not? Is the Austin Quarry going to guarantee water to all the nearby existing and future new housing developments to be built? Madera County approved these new developments based on past water studies. With the new Quarry using and displacing these large amounts of water, will all these new projects need to be re-evaluated to assure there is now adequate water?

No. 2 traffic: 1,784 additional trucks per day, 24/7. As with the majority of Madera County, the roads are always an after thought with little to no forward planning. Right now Highway 41 is extremely difficult to drive over efficiently and safely, and is one of the most dangerous Highways in the state. How is Madera County going to address this added load of trucks for the immediate and safe use of 41 and 145, and surrounding roads? is How is Madera County going to keep the aggregate from falling off the trucks onto the roads, which the aggregate always does even with current regulations? How are these trucks going to navigate through the downtown City of Madera efficiently from RT 145 past Tozer Road to get to RT 99? How is Madera County going to guarantee the citizens of Madera safe, efficient roads to use now and into the future for the next 100 years?

No. 3 reduced property values, dust, and noise: With a dusty, noisy, dynamiting Quarry in plain sight for numerous miles around, how can Madera County justify the little compensation of property taxes from the Quarry to the loss of revenue from the lowering housing values along with the threat of these developments never having an adequate supply of water again? How can one sell or buy a house with very limited to no water?

No. 4 aggregate production: An independent study from Dr. Gary Smith of Pomona College states there is a sufficient current and future supply of aggregate available in Madera County. So what is Madera County’s reason for the Vulcan Austin Quarry if there are adequate supplies of aggregate from existing Quarry’s?

No. 5 jobs: Since there is a proven supply of aggregate currently available in Madera County, it is logistically impossible to create any new jobs. If this rock quarry is built, someone will just be laid off at another quarry - it will not create new jobs. New jobs are created by new and needed businesses, not just more of the same.

For any proposed business to be successful today, all modern business models must have substantially more positive impacts than negatives and in this case, to not burden and to be beneficial for the people of Madera County in substantially more positive areas than negatives. This is how good planning is done.

Hopefully our planning department and supervisors will understand the importance of why these issues need to be addressed. Profits to a few people cannot be burdened on the backs of the many hard working people of Madera County.

The people of Madera County are hurting enough by years of bad planning. We need qualified and thoughtful planning ... not just planning for profit, for a few.