Eric Hoffman, of Rapid City-based Mountain View Ranches, is seeking a county conditional use permit for a 192-acre sand, gravel and rock quarry off Crook City Road, Spearfish, South Dakota.
He said the company would only operate on 10 acres at a time, and land would be reclaimed as the work progressed, reports Black Hill Pioneer.
On April 7, the Lawrence County Planning and Zoning Commission recommended to approve the rock quarry in spite of opposition from some residents who say it would jeopardize historic trails, artifacts and lead to other problems including dust and road damage. On April 19, county commissioners heard from nearly 25 individuals speaking against the proposal at a public meeting.
Hoffman said the reason this particular site, approximately three-quarters of a mile south of Crook City Road, near 11818 Timber Ridge Lane was chosen was simple. “What makes it an optimal location is that the rock is up on top,” Hoffman said. “If you look around, the rock is on top of the ground, so it’s easy to get to.”
Hoffman explained that the limestone rock would be excavated 30 feet down and said that the bottom of a large draw that runs through the property would be the bottom of the rock.
Commissioner Randall Rosenau asked if every cut would be hauled out. Hoffman said initially, gravel would be stacked beside the three-quarter-mile long, 300-foot wide haul road the company plans to build.
Rosenau also asked how long the company planned to operate at the quarry site. “About an acre a year,” Hoffman said. He added that approximately 90 acres would eventually be quarried.
Commissioner Richard Sleep said that in building the road, more than 10 acres would be disturbed in order to get to those 10 acres. “It will never be more than 10 acres and we’ll be reclaiming as we go,” Hoffman said, but pointed out that the haul road itself would be the reclamation conducted initially.
When asked what nearby residents could expect from explosions used to blast the rock as part of its operations, Hoffman said the quarry would operate within the state’s allowance of two vibrations per second. “About as loud as a loud clap of thunder,” Hoffman said. “It will shake as much as that.”
He added that quarry officials plan to blast roughly five times per year all within a three month period and then crushing for three to four months.
With Hills Material, which has been in its current location for between 80 and 90 years, less than a mile away, Hoffman was asked how close quarry operations would get to that operation.
“We could be butting up against Hills Material, yes,” Hoffman said. The property that Hills Material leases as part of its quarry borders the property where the proposed quarry would be located.
When asked how heavy semi loads tearing up the Crook City Road would be accounted for, Hoffman said a haul road agreement with the county would make Mountain View Ranches responsible for maintenance from their entrance to their exit.
Asked what he would say to nearby residents concerned about the quarry going in, Hoffman replied:
“We’ve got dust control measures in place,” Hoffman said. “We’re not opening up the same amount at one time as can been seen up the road on that operation (the Hills Material quarry), which has been here 80 to 100 years with no oversight. At least we would have the oversight of the county. We’re looking at the least intrusive way to get the rock out.”
The Hills Material quarry was established well before Lawrence County’s CUP permitting process began so it is grandfathered in. Currently there are only two county-permitted quarries in Lawrence County. There are 20 active quarries in Lawrence County that have been permitted by the state; however, some of those quarries may be on the same piece of property, but operated by multiple companies. Hoffman said that each 25-ton load of rock is worth around $200 a load and, with truck traffic being erratic, estimated around 2,500 tons per day coming out of the site.
“One hundred trucks,” Hoffman said. He added that the quarry would be in direct competition with Hills Material, offering the same rock products to such customers as the Lawrence County Highway Department, South Dakota Department of Transportation, Meade County and home builders, for example.
“In the summer it would be busy. In the winter, it would slow down.”
The quarry discussion from April 19 was continued until a public hearing to be held June 9. At that time, findings of fact will be heard from both sides.
Michael M. Hickey of Bangs, McCullen, Butler, Foye & Simmons LLP of Rapid City is representing the “Save Centennial Valley Association,” including Charles Brown, Leslie Auer, Arlo Potter, Kevin Farmer, David Ciani and Henry Frawley as interested parties in the matter.
Barton Banks is representing Hoffman.