Syar battles opponents for California quarry expansion

Nearby residents will have another chance to voice their opinions to the Napa County Planning Commission about the proposed Syar quarry expansion in California.

Syar is asking for a 110-acre expansion, compared with its earlier proposal of 124 acres. The existing 497-acre quarry is in the hills east of Napa adjacent to Skyline Wilderness Park. Mining could continue for another 35 years.

Planning staff on August 12 recommended that the expansion be 77 acres. But Syar officials said this smaller footprint would not yield enough basalt for the construction projects expected locally over the coming decades.

Among the barrage of letters the commission received over the past three weeks is a packet from a group called Cease — Coalition Engaged Against Syar Expansion.

It wants no Syar expansion citing the “irreparable damage the project would cause to sensitive wilderness areas nearby” and the potential harmful effects of air and noise pollution to the residents in the East Imola Avenue area.

A petition submitted by the Greater Skyline Area Coalition opposing the expansion has more than 800 names. Another opposition petition has more than 1,300 names. Still another in Spanish from Latinos Unidos has more than 470 names.

Syar submitted more than 300 cards signed by people supporting the expansion. A bigger quarry is needed to supply important aggregate to municipalities and developers, the cards say.

“Quarries don’t win beauty pageants, nor do they draw visitors,” Syar Industries president Jim Syar wrote to the county.

“But quarries provide the aggregate used to build the roads and sidewalks that we walk, bike and drive on every day, the foundations that support our homes, schools and businesses, and the utilities we rely on for our power, water and sanitation.”

The Syar expansion proposal has yielded hundreds of pages of technical materials. The draft environmental impact report finds a 110-acre expansion wouldn’t pose a public health or environmental threat. Citizens have delved into the details and challenged many of the document’s conclusions.

Planning staff recommends the commission continue the Syar hearing beyond Wednesday to a date to be determined. That will give staff time to respond to the comments already received — and the ones that might still be coming.


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