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Azusa voters approve mining operation in hills above San Gabriel Valley

January 26, 2011 | 12:34 pm

Voters in Azusa have approved a rock mining company’s plan to dig into the foothills above the San Gabriel Valley, an operation that residents in neighboring cities say will scar the mountainside, worsen air quality and cut off access to a popular trailhead.

Vulcan Materials, which for years has operated rock quarries in the area, said the process it intends to use will allow for greater revegetation of the hillside.

More than two-thirds of the 3,000 residents who voted in Tuesday’s special election supported the development agreement with Vulcan, which says it plans to use a method known as micro-benching that is less visible than the current technique that leaves 40-foot-high pyramid steps up the hillside.

The mining operation would last until 2038.

Leaders in the city of about 47,000 had approved the plan in July, but a citizens group opposed to the project –- saying they believed the mining would cause an increase in dust and pollution and destroy a scenic ridge -- petitioned for a referendum, putting the issue to a vote. 

The city still has to deal with a lawsuit filed against it by residents in neighboring Duarte whose officials have fought the plan since it surfaced, rallying residents to appear at Azusa city meetings. Arguing that the mining shift will greatly affect their residents, Duarte filed a lawsuit against Vulcan and Azusa seeking to overturn the certification of environmental reports.


Mining proposal maddens Duarte

-- Corina Knoll