The Las Pilitas quarry proposal in Santa Margarita is back from the dead.
Two years after the SLO County Board of Supervisors shot down the project amid intense community opposition, Las Pilitas LLC and landowner Danny Oster re-filed the application for the 41-acre quarry off Highway 58, which could produce as much as 500,000 tons of aggregate material annually.
The new application includes an added proposal for a “reduced project alternative,” which would limit the annual aggregate yield to 250,000 tons. The alternative includes other reductive measures, like sending trucks down El Camino Real instead of through the heart of Santa Margarita, in an attempt to curb the impacts to the community.
“The applicants have taken to heart the concerns of the Santa Margarita community,” Las Pilitas agent Keith Gurnee wrote in a letter to county staff.
According to the application, the reduced project alternative would limit average daily truck trips to 50 instead of the 136 trips from the original project. The application claims the alternative would result in reduced environmental impacts overall.
SLO County planner Airlin Singewald told New Times the county has accepted the application and will work off of the final environmental impact report (EIR) from the original project. That EIR was completed but never certified, Singewald said. The county will retain a consultant to update the EIR, which once drafted, will be open to public comment. Eventually, the project will go back to the Planning Commission for approval.
The Planning Commission voted down the original project in 2015.
The original quarry proposal, first brought forward in 2009, became a lightning rod for controversy, dividing the Santa Margarita community. Impacts related to traffic safety, pollution, and noise concerned residents and compelled county planning staff to recommend denial.
Singewald pointed out that the new application, in its general project description, is the same as it was two years ago. The Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors could opt to approve the full-scale, original project. Or, they could consider the reduced project.
“This isn’t a typical situation,” Singewald said. “The whole thing is pretty unusual.”