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Great Azuza Permitting Dispute Not Over Yet

The ongoing dispute Between Vulcan Materials and the town of Duarte, Calif., has been decided at the ballot box, and it’s Vulcan in a landslide. But the permitting battle is not over yet.

Residents of neighboring Azusa overwhelming voted in support of a new mining plan during a special election. In a lopsided win for Vulcan Materials Co.'s Azusa Rock Quarry mining plan, residents voted 1,972 in favor of the plan with 945 opposed. The election was a major victory for the mining plan, its supporters and the four council members who voted in favor of it.

“We have always been committed to working with the community and these election results are an example of what can be accomplished when a community works together,” Vulcan spokeswoman Peg Casey told the Pasadena Star News.

The only thing standing in the way of the mining plan now is a lawsuit from the neighboring city of Duarte against the plan’s environmental impact report. The lawsuit comes after a successful referendum petition by the project's opponents, which started after the plan was approved in July 2010 by the council in a 4-1 vote. Mayor Joe Rocha was the lone dissenting vote.

At stake was a development agreement – a contract between the city and Vulcan - connected to the mining plan. Opponents who orchestrated a referendum of the development agreement hoped that if the agreement was rejected, so too would have been the mining plan.

Vulcan Materials Co. has a permit to mine 190 acres near Fish Canyon on 270 acres the company owns. In July 2010, the city council approved an amended-use permit that allows Vulcan to switch sides for mining. In return, Vulcan would use new techniques to better reshape the hillside, as well as pay the city additional taxes.

The permit allowed Vulcan to exchange 80 acres of mining land on the east end of its property for 80 acres of undisturbed land on its western end.

A hearing for Duarte's lawsuit against Azusa regarding a mining project was moved to March. Duarte's suit alleges that an environmental impact report was flawed when examining Vulcan Materials Co.'s Azusa Rock Quarry mining plan

Duarte originally filed the suit – that also alleges open meeting law violations by Azusa's council – in August 2010 following council's approval of the mining plan.

There is an additional twist to the story. The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), which was investigating potential Political Reform Act violations by the Canyon City Alliance, a pro-mining group, has ruled that Vulcan Materials Co. did not post its name improperly on campaign literature produced by the group.

The alliance – comprised of the Azusa Chamber of Commerce, the Police Officer's Association and Vulcan – was advocating in favor of Vulcan's amended plan.