Quarry quarrel talks continue

Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat /

Parties involved in an ongoing lawsuit over a proposed rock quarry in the far-west end of the county are still working their way toward a settlement.

Representatives with Tuolumne County, the city of Riverbank, owners and multiple environmental groups have been in talks for months to work out a possible agreement over the Cooperstown Quarry.

Riverbank, in Stanislaus County, is suing the county and quarry owners over the project, as Riverbank officials believe operations at the site will have major impacts on their community. And both environmental groups, Friends of the Mother Lode and Central Sierra Environmental Resource Center, have also sued the county and quarry owners in separate but similar litigation filed in Stanislaus County.

Tuolumne County Counsel Carlyn Drivdahl described the process on Thursday as "slow going," but said they are still working on it. She also said the fact that more than two parties are involved does add to the process.

"Any time you have more than two, it gets more complicated," she said.

Rick Canepa, a part-owner of the quarry project, also told The Union Democrat that it's still in litigation and said he couldn't really comment further on the process other than that a settlement has not yet been reached.

"We're just plugging along trying to get all this stuff settled," he said.

Attorneys with the city of Riverbank and the environmental organizations did not return messages seeking comment by Thursday evening.

The city filed a lawsuit in April after the county Board of Supervisors allowed the quarry project to move forward without a detailed environmental impact report. For major projects that have significant environmental impacts, state law requires the EIR to detail those impacts and lay out ways to lessen or compensate for them.

One of the city's main concerns is over increased train traffic through town that the quarry will produce. The 135-acre Cooperstown project is expected to generate as much as 56 million tons of rock over the next 75 years, which will be transported by rail.

The lawsuit between Riverbank and Tuolumne County was moved from Sonora to a Sacramento court in September, as the city claimed at the time that Tuolumne County would not be a neutral venue since the county is a party in the lawsuit.

The Union Democrat
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