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Ojai Quarry reclamation amendment to be appealed Oct. 21

 OVN file photo Ojai Quarry

Ojai Valley News file photo 

The site of the Ojai Quarry has been used intermittently as a rock quarry since 1939.

Perry Van Houten, Ojai Valley News senior reporter 

Opponents of the Ojai Quarry’s county-approved amended reclamation plan will have their appeal heard before the Ventura County Planning Commission Oct. 21 at 8:30 a.m.

Required by state law, a plan for the reclamation of mined lands once mining operations have ceased is necessary to return the land to a usable and safe condition.

Under the quarry’s former reclamation plan, over-excavated areas at the facility at 15558 Maricopa Highway would have required backfill with approximately 97,000 cubic yards of fill material taken from on site.

The amended reclamation plan, requested by quarry owner Larry Mosler and approved June 25 by Ventura County Planning Director Dave Ward, largely eliminates the need for backfill, allowing the existing ground surface in the over-excavated area to constitute part of the final reclaimed surface.

Ward’s decision to approve the amended reclamation plan followed a site visit by county employees that found the Ojai Quarry in compliance with its conditional use permit, according to a staff report.

The decision was final unless appealed, which it was by environmental groups Los Padres ForestWatch, the Environmental Coalition, and the Ojai Stop the Trucks! Coalition.

Michael Shapiro, a longtime Ojai Valley environmental activist and co-founder and chair of the Ojai Stop the Trucks! Coalition, said the idea of “rewarding” a quarry operator, who was issued several notices of violation between 2008 and 2011, is incomprehensible.

“This is a case where there’s no reason whatsoever that the operator should be awarded a golden parachute that could save him hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not more, to not comply with his reclamation obligation at the end of the quarry’s operation,” Shapiro said.

The city of Ojai did not file its own appeal, but weighed in with a letter of support for the appeal that stated the new plan would leave the overexcavated areas “permanently scarred, heavily sloped and poorly drained.”

“If it (the appeal) is granted, then the reclamation plan amendment is not approved, and the existing reclamation plan would still be in full force and effect,” said Mindy Fogg, planning manager with the Ventura County Planning Division. “If the operator wants to challenge that, they can appeal to the Board of Supervisors.”

In a report from Planning staff posted on the Planning Division website Oct. 14, “We’re asking the commission to deny the appeal and uphold the approval of the reclamation plan amendment,” Fogg wrote.

To view the agenda and staff report, see: https://bit.ly/2YRsgx2.

For options on how to participate in the hearing, visit: https://bit.ly/3j2VqAw.

 

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