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Ojai officials oppose Ojai Quarry reclamation plan change

 

ojai quarry01
Ojai Valley News file photo
The public weighed in on a proposed change to the Ojai Quarry’s reclamation plan during a Planning Director hearing held May 27 on Zoom.

 

By Perry Van Houten, Ojai Valley News senior reporter

City of Ojai officials say they don’t support a proposed change to a reclamation plan requested by the owner of the Ojai Quarry.

A reclamation plan, required by state law, is a blueprint for returning mined lands to a usable and safe condition once mining operations have ceased.

On May 27, the Ventura County Planning Division held a public hearing to take comments on the proposed change. Planners also took written comments, including a letter from city of Ojai Community Development Manager Lucas Seibert.

Under the current reclamation plan, over-excavated areas at the facility, at 15558 Maricopa Highway, would need to be backfilled, requiring the placement of approximately 97,000 cubic yards of fill material, which would come from on-site. The proposed amendment to the reclamation plan would allow the existing ground surface in the over-excavated area to constitute a portion of the final reclaimed surface, eliminating the requirement for fill material.

“It would allow them to use what’s on-site to stabilize it and still put it back into good order,” Mindy Fogg, commercial and industrial permits manager with the county, told the Ojai Valley News on May 24.

In his letter, Seibert expressed concern that a planning staff report and supporting documents on the proposed change provide no grounds for the elimination of the backfill requirement.

“Neither the county, nor the applicant, have so far explained or justified how the new proposed final surface plan, which would simply leave the existing excavated areas in place as permanently scarred, heavily sloped and poorly drained areas, is compliant with applicable law and beneficial for the community, let alone compliant with the county’s general plan,” Seibert wrote.

The city’s second concern is regarding a portion of the staff report that said the county’s geologist has reviewed and concurred with the quarry’s technical report and supporting documentation, “but no rationale nor report has been provided to support the Ventura County geologist’s conclusion,” Seibert stated.

The state of California has already given its OK to the proposed reclamation plan amendment. “And now, after working with the state, we’re ready to finalize that change to the reclamation plan,” Fogg told the OVN.

But Meiners Oaks resident Pat Baggerly, representing the Environmental Coalition, questioned whether a public notice on the hearing published in the Ventura County Star on May 17, and the staff report on the proposed amendment released May 20, meet the requirements for notifying the public in a timely manner. “We only had a week to look at this document,” Baggerly said during the hearing. “In essence, this project has already been approved, which makes it difficult.”

The site has been used intermittently as a rock quarry since 1939, the staff report stated. The original owner sold the site to current owner Larry Mosler in 2005. Between 2008 and 2011, the county issued several notices of violation to Mosler, who subsequently took measures to correct the problems, according to Planning staff. The violations ranged from mining outside of permitted boundaries, exceeding the daily maximum number of truck trips and operating outside of permitted hours, the report stated.

In 2017, the Ventura County Board of Supervisors authorized mining operations at the site to continue until 2046.

Representing the Ojai Stop the Trucks! Coalition at Thursday’s public hearing, Ojai resident Michael Shapiro said he is concerned that slides of aggregate material that carry sediment into the North Fork of Matilija Creek endanger the habitat of southern steelhead.

Shapiro also questioned whether Mosler had secured a required “surety bond” to pay for the reclamation of the site.

Now that planners have taken public input, Ventura County Planning Director Dave Ward has 40 days to issue a decision on the proposed change to the quarry’s reclamation plan. He could approve or deny the project, or approve it with modifications. Ward’s decision is final unless appealed to the Planning Commission within 10 calendar days.

People interested in receiving a letter stating Ward’s decision can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

To view the planning staff report on the proposed amended reclamation plan, see https://vcrma.org/docs/images/pdf/planning/hearings/pd/05-27-21_MF_PL18-0136.pdf.

(Use the computer's "zoom in" and "zoom out" tool to view the documents and maps.)

To view the Planning director agenda, visit: https://vcrma.org/docs/images/pdf/planning/hearings/pd/05-27-21_pdh-post_05-20-21.pdf

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Mosler Rock 2

 Images from county of Ventura Planning document for the quarry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mosler rock 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

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