Press Enterprise May 4, 2011    Jeff Horseman

Quarry crowd smaller, not as rowdy

Last week's hearing was packed, but when Tuesday's hearing started a little after 4 p.m., there were rows of empty seats -- but still hundreds in the church. Once again, opponents wore orange t-shirts and hats, and supporters -- fewer in number by comparison -- wore green.
Roth read information from county planners indicating 415 people signed forms showing they opposed the quarry, and 27 signed forms in support.
Pro-quarry speakers kicked off hours of public testimony. Leading off was William Smith of Laborers' International Union of North America Local 1184.
Smith said roughly 500 of his union's 4,000 members were out of work. "The only thing that's going to revitalize this economy is private sector jobs," he said.
Jessica Vulovic of Temecula said she supported the quarry after her son's best friend was struck and killed by a truck carrying aggregate, the building material to be produced by the quarry. Quarry developer Granite Construction says the quarry will take trucks off the road since it will be a local aggregate source, although critics say more truck traffic would be created.
Opponents who spoke included Cynthia Myers, who said she lives near the quarry site. She urged commissioners not to "allow a giant corporation to inflict this noisy and obnoxious scar on our communities. Please give us liberty from this quarry."
The quarry would be in the foothills between Temecula and San Diego County. Granite maintains the quarry, which would operate for 75 years and occupy at least 135 acres of a 414-acre site off Interstate 15. The company says the quarry would provide the region with about 100 high-paying jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in sales tax revenue while not being seen or heard by surrounding areas.
Critics say Granite's technical studies are flawed and deceptive. They say the quarry will lead to silica dust entering people's lungs and endangering their health.
The quarry will lower property values, damage local tourism and a neighboring ecological reserve and cause noise and light pollution, opponents say. The Temecula City Council and the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians are among the groups against the project.
Commissioners Jim Porras and John Snell were absent Tuesday. County Deputy Counsel Shellie Clack said they chose not to take part pending an opinion by the state Fair Political Practices Commission.
The FPPC was asked by the county to determine whether Snell and Porras have a conflict of interest because Snell's wife and Porras are teachers. Due to state mineral rights, California's teachers' retirement fund stands to benefit financially if the quarry is approved.
Reach Jeff Horseman at 951-375-3727 or jhorseman@PE.com.

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