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Sand Mine Hearing Stretches Into Another Night

Posted by wlpo on December 15, 2011

A few hundred people were around for the start of the La Salle County Zoning Board of Appeals hearing but only a few dozen were still going when the hearing was continued until today at 5.  Things began last evening with Mississippi Sand President Tony Giordano saying his company’s quarry in Missouri is at maximum production capacity so they want to start blasting along Route 71 just east of Starved Rock.  He promises over 40 jobs with an average salary of around 70 thousand dollars.

The current property owner Bernard Ernat then testified saying the land is the least productive of his 12 farms in La Salle County.  The sand company’s lawyer then called several experts to testify that the mine wouldn’t be a noise issue, wouldn’t lower adjacent property values, wouldn’t overload Route 71 with truck traffic and wouldn’t really affect wildlife in the area.

One potential negative of the night for the sand mine was testimony that the 314 acres had a 203 Land Evaluation and Site Assessment score.  La Salle County’s Zoning Ordinance says any land with a score of 200 or above should be preserved as farm ground.

Before the hearing ended, Ottawa Visitor’s Center Director Julie Johnson testified that she thought the sand pit would drive tourists away from using Route 71 from Ottawa to Starved Rock.  Starved Rock Cycling Club member Donald Dirks finished the night by saying the stretch of road in front of the proposed quarry is a major bicycle route.

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