Riverside County supervisors today denied permits for a proposed 414-acre strip mine just south of Temecula and Murrieta that opponents argued would damage the environment and increase health risks, while proponents touted its job- creating potential and tax benefits.
Board of Supervisors Chairman John Tavaglione cast the decisive vote in the 3-2 decision that followed three days of public testimony and nearly four hours of deliberations by the board.
"Based on the testimony, this project has too many uncertainties," Tavaglione said. "I cannot support this project."
Raucous cheers followed the supervisors' action, with several mine opponents loudly exclaiming "Thank you!"
Permits for the controversial Liberty Quarry were denied by the county planning commission in a 4-1 vote last September. Commissioners cited concerns about elevated levels of silica dust and other pollutants, the permanent impact on area aesthetics, including nighttime lights, and the adverse effects on area wildlife as reasons for their opposition.
Supervisor Jeff Stone, whose district encompasses Murrieta, Temecula and the project zone, echoed the same worries in urging his colleagues today to reject the strip mine.
"All the planning commissioners struggled with competing interests," he said. "This is a tough decision, a tough vote ... But this project is incompatible (with the area)."
Supervisor Bob Buster joined Stone and Tavaglione in opposition, while Supervisors Marion Ashley and John Benoit voted in favor of the project.
Full story to follow.