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Planners approve Bing materials request

by Christy Chalmers

Douglas County planners narrowly approved a request to expand a Gardnerville Ranchos quarry Tuesday.

Despite frustration about current violations at the Bing Materials pit on Kimmerling Road, four of the seven county planning commissioners decided a series of conditions required for approval of the expansion could address those problems.

“I trust that staff got the point. I think the district attorney’s office got the point and I think the planning staff got the point on the compliance issue,” said Rick Gardner, one of the four who voted in favor of the request.

Operator Gerry Bing said the expansion could add about 10 years to the life of the pit, which has operated since 1971.

The pit boundary will move 300 feet to the north and northeast and up to 160 feet west. Currently, a 660-foot buffer zone separates nearby houses and the pit. That zone would shrink to 330 feet on the north side, 355 feet on the east side and as close to 369 feet on the west side.

The request drew criticism from neighbors worried about impacts on water quality, dust and noise. Some lobbied to postpone a decision, incensed over violations of the current pit use permit.

The violations include not posting a security deposit for eventual restoration of the pit, operating after approved hours and inadequate environmental inspections.

Planning Commissioners Ame Hellman, Valida McMichael and Mike Hayes favored postponing the vote on the expansion plan until the violations are resolved.

Planning Commissioner Jay Lather, who voted with Gardner, Mark Neuffer and Devere Dressler to approve the expansion, said the violations should be handled by the county’s code enforcement officer, not the planning board.

“I’m very disappointed in the way the previous permit has been enforced, but I don’t feel it’s the planning commision’s role to really assert any control over that,” Lather said. “The safeguards are there, they’re just not being enforced.”

Scott Brooke, an attorney for Bing, said the firm will post a bond to pay for restoration and work on remedying the violations.

Changes to the original permit for the pit were made in 1994. At the time, a restoration plan was submitted, but a new plan would be done for the expansion.

Despite more than a dozen letters opposing the expansion and testimony from the standing-room only crowd, two spoke in favor of the pit.

“It might be noisy, it might be some dust. That’s part of (where) we live,” said Gardnerville resident Ray Tomalas.

Byron Waite said the pit’s presence hasn’t stopped his plans to build a senior housing project nearby.

“Anybody that built a house out there knew it was there,” he said. “I think we all have to deal with some of those issues.”