The owners of a rock quarry along the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River have given up their quest for rezoning that would allow mining to continue.
The operation began last year without the necessary county rezone from suburban residential to “natural resource district.”
People who lived along the scenic river near Enaville were surprised and upset when blasting began. Hundreds more signed a petition objecting to the rock quarry. They were expected to be out in full force Wednesday for a Shoshone County commission hearing on the matter.
But on Thursday, one of the owners said the request will be dropped for good.
“It’s the best thing for all concerned,” Dan Jacobson said. “It’s an effort to be good neighbors and stay in the good graces of the county.”
However, the company does plan to open a quarry above that site on properly zoned land, county planner Mike Boquist said.
Jacobson is a partner in Double (D)-L.L.C., which bought the 43 logged-over acres containing the riverside quarry last year. It was sold by Dan Hagman, who became part-owner and ran the operation.
“It was an up-and-running pit, permitted by the state,” Jacobson said. “The day after we purchased it, the county came and shut it down.”
Planning and Zoning Commissioner Dick Rifkind, who lives upstream of the quarry site, said Hagman was trying to “slide by” zoning regulations when he started mining gravel there.
Hagman did not return a call seeking comment.
“It would destroy the recreational value of that whole stretch of river,” Rifkind said. “There’s houses right across the river. The noise and the dust would have made those all but uninhabitable.”
The planning commission unanimously recommended against the rezoning. County commissioners were scheduled to act on that recommendation after Wednesday’s hearing.
Dick Nordstrom, another riverside resident, said Thursday the mining would have hurt property values and degraded the river.
“We’re in construction, and we do mining. There’s a place for Wal-Mart, and there’s a place for rock pits,” he said.
“We’re happy that it’s not going to happen,” said neighbor Kate Waechter, who said she saw rock blasted into the river when the quarry was operating last November.
Ironically, a county road department contractor had been buying gravel from the pit, using it to repair nearby flood damage.
Jacobson said notice of the company’s state surface mining permit had been sent to the county, giving the county a chance to object before mining began.
The county has no record of receiving that notice, Boquist said.
Despite their victory, neighbors will still be hearing the rumble of rock-hauling trucks on the riverside road. Boquist said the mining company has obtained a state permit to dig rock for 20 years on properly zoned adjoining property.
That quarry will be at the top of the mountain above the disputed pit, Boquist said, and trucks will use a road that crosses the riverside acreage.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Map of Rock quary area
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox
Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.