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VALLEY ROUNDUP | Santa Clarita

City to Host Rally Against Gravel Mine

October 10, 2000|CAROL CHAMBERS

City leaders plan to fire another volley Wednesday in opposition to the proposed Transit Mixed Concrete Co. mining pit in Soledad Canyon by hosting a community rally. Officials from nearby Agua Dulce and Acton, along with residents from the three communities, are expected to attend, city officials said.

The 460-acre Transit Mixed site lies southeast of the Antelope Valley Freeway about two miles outside the Santa Clarita city limits. Part of the site has been mined on a smaller scale for decades.

"We've had mining out there for years," said Santa Clarita spokeswoman Gail Ortiz. "But this project will devastate this community from every aspect--health, traffic, water, the environment--everything."

To date, Santa Clarita has spent more than $120,000 on attorney fees, environmental studies, lobbyists and advertising to fight the mine. The City Council recently approved use of a $1-million war chest originally set aside to fight a proposed landfill in Elsmere Canyon to include the battle against the mine.

"The comparisons with the pit and Elsmere are just striking," Ortiz said. "But we had years to plan our strategy with Elsmere. This time we only have a matter of weeks."

The proposal is set for public hearing before the county Board of Supervisors on Oct. 24. Santa Clarita council members have requested a 120-day postponement but won't know until next week if the request will be granted, Ortiz said.

On Aug. 1, the Bureau of Land Management approved a modified version of the project, allowing Transit Mixed to extract 78 million tons of material over 20 years to produce and sell approximately 56.1 million tons of sand and gravel, according to a summary of the bureau's Record of Decision.

Transit Mixed officials say the project is a vital source of sand and gravel used to make concrete for construction in the Santa Clarita and San Fernando valleys.

"The city in its opposition is raising an undue amount of public concern," Transit Mixed spokesman Brian Mastin said of the rally. "We understand that they are opposed to the project and want to make their position known. Of course, we have a different position.

"We would ask people to read the [Bureau of Land Management's] Record of Decision," he said. "They will see that we have made significant modifications. It is one of the most advanced mining projects around. We have a good project and a safe project."

The rally will begin at 7 p.m. in the Canyon High School gymnasium, 19300 Nadal St., Canyon Country.

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