LIBERTY QUARRYProject denied, but environmental study certified

Riverside County Supervisor John Tavaglione was the swing vote in the board of supervisors' February rejection of the Liberty Quarry. He was the swing vote again on Tuesday, May 15, voting to certify the quarry's environmental impact report over the anger of quarry opponents.

Riverside County supervisors Tuesday, May 15 formally rejected plans for a Temecula-area rock mine, but their decision to certify a quarry-related study shocked and outraged opponents who threatened legal action and questioned whether backroom deals were made.
The Board of Supervisors' 3-2 vote finalized its February rejection of Liberty Quarry, sought for a 414-acre site bordering Temecula to the south.
But in a surprise move, the board voted 3-2 to certify the quarry's environmental impact report, an 8,500-page study of the project paid for by the developer and vetted by county planning staff. The report concluded that a smaller version of the quarry would be better from an environmental standpoint than not building a quarry at all.
By certifying the report, Temecula City Attorney Peter Thorson said the door was left open for the quarry to come back, this time with an approved environmental study in hand. All that would need to happen, he said, is for a new quarry plan to come back within three years' time and for the finding that nothing has changed since the report was certified.
Temecula Mayor Chuck Washington and Mark Macarro, tribal chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, urged supervisors not to certify the report. If that happened, they said they would have little choice but to go to court to block certification.
In certifying the report, supervisors tacked on a condition requiring developer Granite Construction to pay the county's legal expenses in the event of a court fight.

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