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Lehigh Prevails with Supes Decision on Reclamation Plan

Air and water quality at Rancho San Antonio Park in Los Altos is a concern, as is the visual impact of the mining and deposits that can be seen from the open space preserve.

 

On one side was , who was Tuesday, contending the plant's reclamation project had too many conditions placed on it by the county's Planning Commission.

On the other side, three other groups, including the Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, who were seeking more restrictive measures to be placed on the cement mining company's operations, for environmental reasons.

Their requests to delay the supervisor's decision fell on deaf ears.

Lehigh prevailed when its appeals were granted Tuesday. (RPA), which would update and replace a 1985 plan to restore land as best possible to its pre-mined condition, , along with a long list of conditions. Lehigh had objected to a handful of the conditions and filed for an appeal with the County.

The approval was vital to the company, which .

Two environmental groups, (BACE) and Quarry No, also filed for appeals on largely the same concerns as one another, as did Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District (MROSD), which admitted discomfort with challenging another public agency, but said it felt the environmental concerns were more important. None of their appeals were approved or discussed in the meeting.

The Board’s approval of the RPA largely upheld the Planning Commission’s decision, save for the appeal of specific conditions requested by Lehigh. The supervisors, for example, reversed the Planning Commission’s condition to a one-year term for water quality monitoring and testing. Lehigh prevailed with the appeal to return to a two-year term, based on analysis provided by an expert consulted by the company, according to Mark Harrison, Lehigh’s counsel.

The decision was a great disappointment to critics of Lehigh who object to many areas of the RPA and an approved Environmental Impact Review (EIR).

“It’s not a surprise though,” said Tim Brand, a Cupertino resident and member of BACE after the meeting.

“It’s amazing how little consideration there was (of our appeal,)” he said.

Cupertino Councilmember Rod Sinks, who spoke on behalf of himself and as a member of BACE, not for the city, had argued for by filling in an open pit with the overburden, or at the very least preventing the massive rock pile from further growth, which it will do in short order. His pleas were not met.

“The logic here is warped,” he said after the meeting.

There was scant discussion and few questions posed by supervisors before the vote, a stark contrast in comparison to recent Planning Commission hearings.

Supervisor Liz Kniss, who represents the area in which Lehigh is located, praised the company and the planning staff who worked on the plan together. In a statement of full disclosure she said that she spoke “extensively” with Steve Abbors, general manager of MROSD, the evening before and the morning of Tuesday’s meeting, but did not have conversations with members of the other appealing parties, BACE and Quarry No.

According to Brand and Sinks, Kniss has granted only one or two meeting requests with their group, and it’s “been awhile” since she has sat down with any of them to discuss their, or other residents’ concerns.

Abbors said during the hearing and told Patch after the meeting that he is requesting representatives from Lehigh to come to Rancho San Antonio to see for themselves just one aspect of his concerns—the visual blemish on the hillside caused by the mining and deposits of unused material—called overburden—piled up in a mining storage area that will grow by 3.8 million cubic yards over the next three years.

With roughly a half-million visitors Rancho San Antonio is MROSD’s most visited preserve, and with its 30 employees “regularly assigned” there, MROSD says it is also concerned about the

The meeting may have concluded to Lehigh’s satisfaction in the RPA, but the stage has been set for pending lawsuits, critics said.

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