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CITY SMART | THE RUB: Dealing With Conflict in the
Urban Zone

Digging in Their Heels

In Rolling Hills Estates, a quarry operator wants to roll away part of a hill in trucks. Residents fighting the plan say it will mean noise and ruined views.


The residents in quiet Rolling Hills Estates were expecting new neighbors to move in across the street. But instead of moving vans, they may be getting a parade of dirt-moving trucks.

The people on Bridlewood Circle thought that the 63-year-old quarry across the way was near extinction and would finally close so that houses or a golf course could go in.

But Chandler's Palos Verdes Sand & Gravel Co. has plans to lop 60 feet off the top of one of its hills and carry out 750,000 cubic yards of dirt over the next four years. That means thousands of trucks will be rolling in and out of the entrance on Palos Verdes Drive East, not far from Bridlewood Circle, a cluster of 18 homes laced with horse paths and white fences. "These homes were built in 1979 and everyone thought the quarry then was going to be gone in five years," said Jo Kelford, president of the Bridlewood Homeowners Assn.

John Robertson, vice president and general manager of the quarry, said he voluntarily has delayed the project for two months so he and residents can come to an agreement. Robertson is offering to move the quarry entrance a few hundred feet down the road, relocating it next to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department station in Lomita.

But first, a traffic study has to be done to see how the new entrance would affect residents, including those in an apartment complex across from the proposed entrance. The 127-acre quarry touches on the borders of three cities--Rolling Hills Estates, Lomita and Torrance.

Torrance approved the quarry's grading project in April, deciding that its plans will not affect the environment. That decision did not sit well with many nearby residents, but Rolling Hills Estates officials have decided not to object to Torrance's approval.

Many Torrance residents also are concerned about the planned excavation. Ed Strobel, who lives on Richville Drive where he has a sweeping view of Los Angeles, Torrance and the hill to be excavated, isn't at all pleased with the quarry plans.

He's afraid that within months, his vista will be of bulldozers and trucks instead of rolling terrain.

"They'll be destroying our view by having us look at a pit. For four or five years, we'll have noise and dust," Strobel said. "For the first time, Torrance is allowing the quarry operation to go from the quarry into Torrance. I think that is totally illegal."

Chandler officials said they would put a moratorium on the project and return to Torrance's Environmental Review Board in August with an updated plan. The board will decide if the project can continue or if an environmental impact report will be required.

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