Liberty Quarry public hearing draws large crowd – some voice concern; some voice support

RIVERSIDE – A public hearing Tuesday, Jan. 31, to consider a mining company’s appeal for approval of a quarry project near Temecula drew several hundred people to the Riverside Convention Center, where supporters and opponents voiced their concerns to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors. A marked difference at this meeting, versus previous public hearings, was the level of support for the Liberty Quarry project.

Kari Reuther from Granite said, “Today was clear evidence that, with unemployment at more than 12%, local residents support new jobs. More than 600 Riverside County residents came out from the far reaches of the region today to show their support for Liberty Quarry and the new jobs and revenue it will bring to our region. These people recognize the need for this project, not only because it will create new jobs but because it will provide the materials we need to build our future roads, schools and hospitals.”

The Department of Conservation has reported that Riverside County will run out of needed aggregate in the next 10-20 years if no new sources are permitted. Much of this material is currently being imported through Riverside County to projects in Southwest Riverside and San Diego Counties.

The meeting was organized so that supporters of Granite were to speak first, with the exception of elected officials who were allowed to voice their opinions first, whether they were pro or con.

Temecula City Councilman Ron Roberts said, “The mine will kill that mountain. The quarry will drain away the ground water and just suck the life out of vegetation … The gateway entrance to (southwest) Riverside County will be a dead mountain with a one-mile train of trucks heading toward it. Is it really worth a few jobs?”

He maintained that the operation would increase pollution to levels that threaten the area’s wine vineyards.

Riverside County’s Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR), released last year, concluded the County would be better off economically and environmentally with Liberty Quarry and by taking the trucks that are presently bringing aggregate from other areas off the road, Liberty Quarry would actually improve the region’s air quality, but people opposing the project disagree.

“You’re talking about a giant open pit blasting mine,” added Temecula City Councilwoman Maryann Edwards. “It would be the biggest, most harmful project in Riverside County. No corporate business decision is worth the impacts this mine will have on the people and the place itself.”

Watsonville-based Granite Construction is asking the Board of Supervisors to overrule a decision by the county planning commission last year to deny grading and zoning permits for the Liberty Quarry.

Some homeowner and environmental groups, as well as the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, are staunchly opposed to the project. The Temecula Chamber opposes the project. Supporters include virtually all the rest of the chambers of commerce located within the county, along with officials from cities throughout the central and eastern county regions.

“We in the Coachella Valley understand the need for the Liberty Quarry,” said La Quinta Mayor Pro Tem Terry Henderson. “Liberty Quarry is positioning Riverside County for its future and present needs. Money is not the driving force; good public policy is.”

“Riverside County needs more aggregate … for roads, schools and other public facilities,” said Menifee Mayor John Denver. “Right now, we’re trucking in aggregate from far-reaching places. We’re paying for the higher costs associated with that. Having this (quarry) is vital to the sustainability of our region.”

The project zone would lie just north of the boundary separating Riverside and San Diego counties, east of the Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve and west of Temecula, adjacent to Interstate 15 and Rainbow Valley Boulevard. The actual quarry site is in an area almost completely hidden, with hills blocking the view from the ground or neighboring homes.

Opponents argue the quarry would result in noise, pollution, drainage and habitat changes that have lasting repercussions.

“Our tribe has gone to great lengths to communicate to Granite the importance of this area,” said Corrina Sanchez, a member of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians’ council. “No mitigation will alleviate the effects of this project, other than moving it away from the mountain, which is an essential element of tribal identity.”

Members of the tribe repeatedly emphasized that the escarpment where mining is planned is a “creation place” with great “spiritual significance.”

According to Granite, Pechanga’s land does not border the project, which is on the opposite side of the freeway and, in fact, Pechanga’s map shows that their sacred site of creation is 1.7 miles from Liberty Quarry and closer to their own tribal development, where they’ve used tons of aggregate for their casino, hotel, parking structure, etc.

In addition to the final environmental impact report issued last March that found that most land-use problems arising from the project could be mitigated, air quality testing that has taken place near the Rosemary’s Mountain quarry, also owned by Granite Construction, has reported air quality testing results well below state and federal standards.

Visit this link for Rosemary’s Mountain test results:

Planning commission staff recommended that the board vote in favor of it, providing various conditions were met.

After determining that the project “footprint” could be shrunk to around 135 acres, commissioners were optimistic that it could move forward. However, after listening to more than 50 hours of testimony and reviewing several hundred letters and emails — most of them negative — the commission voted against the quarry.

Commissioners cited elevated levels of silica dust and other pollutants in the first two years of the project, the permanent impact on area aesthetics, including nighttime lights, and the adverse effects on area wildlife as reasons for opposition.

Granite Construction is seeking a 75-year operating window, during which it plans to remove an estimated five million tons of construction-grade aggregate — gravel and sand.

Around 100 direct jobs and nearly 200 collateral jobs would be created by the project, according to Granite. Planning commission staff estimated the quarry would add about $341 million annually to local government coffers.

The aggregate extracted at the mine would provide asphalt and concrete for roads, homes and other infrastructure projects, Granite officials said.

A final public hearing is set for Feb. 6.

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26 Responses to "Liberty Quarry public hearing draws large crowd – some voice concern; some voice support"

  1. smoke&mirrors   February 1, 2012 at 6:26 am

    There are other more suitable locations. SoCal is a rocky desert,pick another spot. This project is vital to the well being of Granite,end of story. The sky is falling if we don’t have aggregate! They already have Rosemary quarry just a stones throw away. Pun intended. Come taste Temecula’s special silicia wine, it’s delicious! I love how they always mention schools and hospitals. Who wrote this?

  2. Temecula Tim   February 1, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    What a crock of an article! Almost 2000 people are a lot more than a few hundred. Also the only reason there were more fors than against at this meeting was that the meeting was set up to hear the fors first at the first meeting. This article must have been written by Granite without a truthful telling of the whole story of the consequences that would ensue if they had their way.

  3. Art Rideout   February 1, 2012 at 12:59 pm

    But lets thank the Village News for publishing what is going on around town. They do a great job and in any local emergency they are there.

  4. No quarry, please!   February 1, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    So tired of having to fight this big company who throws tons of money to get ts way!

  5. ???   February 1, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Quarry Quarry Quarry hahahahahah…..

  6. tdave   February 1, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    I’ve enjoyed watching the same folks fight against this quarry blast the Obama administration for their opposition to the Keytsone XL pipeline. Granite owns the property and the mineral rights. The rest is just free enterprise. Right?

  7. YesQuarry!!!   February 1, 2012 at 3:51 pm


  8. TiffForTat   February 1, 2012 at 4:52 pm

    Go Quarry! I am so for more jobs in our valley. I am still befuddled at how people can be so against this project. Granite Construction is one of the reputable companies in our state and they want to come to our valley when most companies these are packing up and heading to others states. Come on people open your eyes we NEED this! Not only that, even Pechanga said they aren

  9. NoQuarry!!!   February 1, 2012 at 4:55 pm


  10. Temecula Grandmother of 4   February 1, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    I was at that meeting and there was nothing like the numbers of mine supporters that Kerri Reuther (Granite’s paid spokesperson) claims. If this is how deceitful they are before getting permits, Heaven help Temecula once they actually receive them.

  11. to much construction   February 1, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    there is already enough stuff built here. we don’t need contruction workers to build anymore new homes. this town is already crowded!!! I miss all the open fields that are now track homes.

  12. resident   February 2, 2012 at 10:45 am

    To Temecula Grandma:You’re totally right regarding the numbers. Maybe half (maybe) of those numbers. The new pics from the Valley News while impressive don’t show 600 people. But kudos to your photographer for taking your pics from angles and parts of the auditorium to bolster only one side of the debate.

    Too bad the Valley News has chosen to start spinning the news for Granite as opposed to straight forward reporting.

  13. Republican voter   February 2, 2012 at 12:15 pm

    If my county supervisor votes for this dumb project I’ll never vote for him again. In fact I’ll be sure to vote for whoever runs against him Repub, Dem whatever. When you start messing with my family and my home you crossed the line!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  14. from Temecula too   February 2, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    @#10. “If this is how deceitful they are before getting permits, Heaven help Temecula once they actually receive them.”

    You’re so right. Granite has a long and well establshed history of ignoring regulations once permits are in place. For them fines are just another cost of doing business. At their Indio facility they’ve been cited and fined repeatedly and often but they just keep doing whatever they want to do because once they’re in place you can’t shut them down. They express an absolutely contemptuous attitude for every community in which they’re located. All sweet talk to get in, promises, promises but once there it’s the locals be darned.

  15. Lee Chew   February 2, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    Looks like Granite Const brought out the union folks and paid them to attend. Anything to make it look like people support this Liberty Quarry.

  16. smoke&mirrors   February 2, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    tiff for tat you’ve been duped . Those laborers work for Granite and were paid to be there. The "100 jobs" will make no difference to Temecula employment figures. Relatively speaking it takes very few employees to run a quarry. Unless you are already a member of Local 12 IUOE you won’t be working there. Local 12 has thousands of unemployed members on "out of work lists". Granite already employs all the people they will need. The Indio stories are true and there are many more throughout the state. Granite is actually costing jobs in SD County by underbidding the established SD contractors who’ve been forced to layoff their people. Granite can afford to underbid by millions because they own the quarry(Rosemary’s). The state (Caltrans) doesn’t care what aggregate costs. It’s not their problem, they play with monoply money. This project benefits Granite, end of story.

  17. MyView   February 2, 2012 at 6:13 pm

    One of the points made for those who are pro Granite is that having a local quarry will actually help the environment, air quality, roads, etc. because there will be no need to have trucks come from far away carrying loads of aggregate for our local needs. BUT, is there anything keeping Granite from selling aggregate to buyers from far away? Buyers who will need the aggregate transported via truck over those same roads, through those same communities, affecting the environment, air quality, etc. to get to those places far away??
    The location for entering and exiting the 15 freeway with so many trucks, even if they are only going to be delivery locally, will most likely create more problems on the freeway. Look at the exits for Winchester, Rancho California & Hwy 79 South – lines of traffic! As you progress further south, there will eventually be the same issue at Hwy 76 once they build all of those hundreds of homes NE of Hwy 76 & the 15 Fwy.
    If people were not so desperate for jobs in todays economy – would that many people support this quarry? How many current, local residents will actually get the "100 direct jobs and nearly 200 collateral jobs…." created by Granite? In the coal mining regions of the U.S. many people have come to rely on mining jobs because there are not many other job opportunities. Those people feel that they have no choice. We still have a choice here.
    As I have mentioned before in comments on previous stories about this quarry – if you have the opportunity to read this book: ‘LOST MOUNTAIN: A Year In The Vanishing Wilderness’ (Radical Strip Mining and the Devastation of Appalachia) by Erik Reece. This book talks about what could happen in an extreme case of strip mining. One never knows for sure what will happen once work begins. I understand that coal mining & gravel/aggregate are different materials, but the environmental and economic consequences are similar.
    I know that we needs jobs, but there has to be a better way to improve our local economy. With all of the educated, experienced, & creative individuals out there, we should be able to put our heads together and create well more than the 300 jobs being dangled in front of us by Granite. Good jobs, stable jobs, jobs to be proud of. Also, we as a community need to find other materials to use so that we don’t have to worry about a potential quarry in our neighborhood. Maybe we can start a business creating products using recycled materials that could replace the large need for aggregate. A business that would create hundreds of jobs????

  18. realtor   February 2, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    As has been said before this is nothing but blight. And people will not spend big bucks to buy homes around blight. This is a poorly chosen location right at the entrance of Riverside County and the City of Temecula. BTW-As was said above, I too am a Republican and can say with absolute certainty that I would decline to ever support any politician who votes for this project.

  19. Mark   February 3, 2012 at 1:35 am

    What I want to know is why are people in county government bending over backwards to placate this mining company. They want a partial rezone for that site to accomodate their mining operation. Wow, aren’t they just so, so special!

  20. observant   February 3, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    I was once a Republican but the party no longer represents me. I’m surprised at the number of people who wear the term with a badge of honor. It’s not like it used to be. I would be embarrassed to be a Dem or a Repub. Both are parties of lies and deception.

    As far as the quarry goes, It would be interesting to know just how many acres are destroyed yearly in the surrounding area by residential, commercial and road development. It’s probably far more than the amount that is going to be destroyed by this quarry. Meanwhile the environmental and economic benefits of having the quarry mined near its demand can’t be ignored. Think of all the truck miles saved if the quarry is 20 miles from it’s demand instead of 60 miles.

    I really find the argument that the quarry is going to hurt the vineyards to be very entertaining. Who needs the Comedy Channel when you can come up with stuff like that!

    Ideally, if demand for the aggregate didn’t exist then the quarry wouldn’t be needed. To this effect, remember to condom up, take those birth control pills, support Roe vs. Wade and support our fearless leaders starting as many wars as possible around the globe. Seven billion people is six billion too many.

    I hope I gave ya’ll sumthin’ to talk about. Have a nice day.

  21. Joanne   February 3, 2012 at 5:44 pm

    Re:20. We need electric plants, oil refineries and heavy manufactoring as well. But those uses wouldn’t be approved for this spot with good reason. Why the exception for Granite? It doesn’t have to be there.

    I’m sorry to hear you finding those arguments that building an eyesore has a negative effect on other existing industries such as vineyards and tourism. Clearly your livliehood is not based upon those pre existing business concerns.

  22. green for me   February 3, 2012 at 5:59 pm


    It’s a significant wildlife corridor. Its destruction will further endanger several threatened species by reducing access thru that corridor that links two seperate ranges. Why do people like you feel that examples of wanton environmental disregard in one place should now allow for carte blanche environmental destruction everywhere? It makes no sense.

  23. Lee Chew   February 3, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    Observant seems to have opened 1 or 2 bottles of wine and downed it before her little rant.

  24. Soap box derby   February 4, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    I don’t see how a truck full up with gravel lumbering onto Interstate 15 every 45 to 50 seconds (according to the developer’s own numbers) is a good thing for this area. It just seems we have a bunch of Supervisors who want to do everything in their power to give Riverside County the worst type of projects possible. Big thumbs down on this proposal!

  25. another observer   February 4, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    I wonder where the green shirt supporters live? I know if I lived in Morongo Valley or Hemet I’d be all in favor of this thing being built as well……………….. in Temecula!!! I hope they don’t approve this thing. I live in Murrieta.

  26. VC Resident   February 5, 2012 at 8:13 am

    According to an article in another paper, a large number of the attendees "for" this project had been told it was going to be a job fair and they would be getting snacks and/or pizza. None of them knew it was a Board of Supervisors meeting. Pretty lame.


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