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Decision on Gravel Mine Plan Is Postponed Until '02


The county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday postponed until January its decision on plans for a large sand and gravel mine in Soledad Canyon, citing a need for more traffic studies.

Supervisor Mike Antonovich, who opposes the mine, said truck traffic estimates in an environmental impact report are flawed because they are based on a future widening of Soledad Canyon Road. County planners said the two-lane road cannot be safely widened.

The board directed the planning staff to come up with alternatives to a wider road. The supervisors voted unanimously to review the mine proposal again on Jan. 22.

About 300 north county residents filed into the meeting to protest the plans for the 460-acre mine, which would be just east of the city of Santa Clarita. The project would be operated by the Transit Mixed Concrete Co., a subsidiary of Mexico-based Cemex, which already has federal approval.

The opponents contend the mine would lower property values, pollute the environment and clog traffic. Officials have tinkered with the plans for nearly three years.

On Tuesday, some opponents said the board's delay could rekindle their idea of using trains to haul the gravel away, something that county and federal officials say cannot be done for cost and other reasons.

"This will give us a chance to say, 'Is rail haul a possible option?' " said Bob Haueter, an aide to Antonovich.

Cemex representatives expressed frustration with the postponement and said the county should have spotted any problem in the environmental report earlier.

"We've done the [traffic] analyses; I don't know what's being asked for," said Cemex environmental affairs manager Brian Mastin.

The north county residents hooted as the supervisors tried to determine what went wrong with the report. The residents, many of whom traveled to the downtown hearing in buses that Santa Clarita chartered, said they would return to fight the project in January.

"It seems like we we have a better chance because it seems that [the supervisors] don't even know the facts," said Pat Warford, 56.

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