Gravel pit’s resurrection stirs opposition - Bonner County Daily Bee: Local News

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Gravel pit’s resurrection stirs opposition

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Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2013 10:00 am

SANDPOINT — A controversial gravel mine proposal near the Kootenai County line is resurfacing.

The Bonner County Planning & Zoning Commission is holding a public hearing on Thursday, March 7, to consider a conditional use permit for Terra5, a temporary surface mine on the east side of U.S. Highway 95.

The meeting is scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m. at the Bonner County Administration Building.

It’s the third time the planning commission has considered a surface mining proposal on land owned by the David Haman Trust. Two prior permit requests encountered stiff opposition from neighboring landowners.

Opponents contended, among other things, that the gravel pit would gouge property values, jeopardize ground and well water resources, run off wildlife, and inundate their rural neighborhood with dust and noise.

An initial application was tabled by a previous developer in 2008. The project was revived in 2011 for Knife River Corp., but the planning commission rejected the proposal because it would have been too disruptive to adjacent landowners and the rural ambiance of the Granite Hill area.

But the developers of Terra5 emphasize that the project’s latest iteration is temporary and dedicated to an ongoing Idaho Transportation Department project to widen and realign U.S. Highway 95 through the same area.

Moreover, Terra5 is being developed in a manner that is intended to alleviate neighbors’ concerns, according to h2 Surveying & Engineering in Hayden.

“This temporary project was designed to minimize the effects on neighboring parcels,” Scott McArthur, a professional engineer at h2, said in a 21-page project narrative filed with the county.

Terra5’s hours of operation will conform with the construction hours of the widening project (6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday except on federally-recognized holidays) and the site will be reclaimed once the widening project is done in 2014. No hazardous materials will be stored on site and truck traffic will have direct access to U.S. 95, which will keep it off of county roads.

The developers do not foresee impacts to neighboring wells, but said they would be responsive if a landowner encounters a problem with their water supply.

But the revised development plan appears to be doing little to allay some neighbors’ concerns. The project’s resurrection is stirring opponents.

“They’re at it again, so we’re fighting it again,” said Sheri Lorz.


Project documents

Terra5 project documents are accumulating on the Bonner County Planning Department’s website (

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  • Scott-h2 posted at 8:46 am on Thu, Feb 21, 2013.

    Scott-h2 Posts: 1

    I understand that this is very short notice; however, I was only informed of this article/comment section earlier this morning.

    With that being said, I would like to invite all interested parties to join the Project Applicant, Scarsella Brothers, and myself, the project representative, Scott L. McArthur, h2 Engineering & Surveying, at the WHITE PINE CAFÉ in Athol, 30625 U.S. 95 Athol, ID 8380, tonight (February 21, 2013) for a town hall meeting. The meeting will start at 6:00pm, but please feel free to come at any time during the evening, we want to answer your questions about this project.

    In a town hall meeting invitation mailer sent out earlier this month to the neighbors who live within 1000' of the parent parcel, we encouraged those on that mailing list to communicate with their neighbors, and invite them to also attend this meeting, as we would like to have an opportunity to present the project to the community, and address any questions, comments, or concerns.

    We have also been in contact with many of the neighbors who have expressed their concerns, and we have also provided additional copies of the town hall meeting invitation letter to one of the citizens who volunteered to hand them out to the community.

    If you cannot attend tonight’s town hall meeting, please feel free to email me at If an email conversation warrants further communication, we can arrange to meet in person or have a telephone conversation.

    Thank you for your time and consideration. We hope to see you tonight.


    Scott L. McArthur, PE

  • michelleM posted at 3:05 pm on Sun, Feb 17, 2013.

    michelleM Posts: 2

    Oops! Einstein's quote is "Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over AGAIN and expecting DIFFERENT results". Sorry all - please come

  • michelleM posted at 1:56 pm on Sun, Feb 17, 2013.

    michelleM Posts: 2

    The current application for A CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT FOR MINING File C959-12 is "the same game, different day" The only changes are the cast of characters, Scarsella Brothers rather than Knife River (the last co-applicant) - David L Haman Trust is still the owner of the land and the major applicant (FYI: He also owns the property that the crushing plant in Rathdrum sits on ). The engineering company and spin doctors have changed - look for a very heavy emphasis on the word TEMPORARY in all communications for this time round (see next paragraph). This project is lipstick on a pig - wipe off the makeup and you have the SAME PIG with 2 changes: (1) The entrance to the project has changed: the entrance comes straight off the highway onto the site - Now our school children aren't going to be mowed down right on Anglin Road, they are going to have to play Russian Roulette in their school buses with the non-stop dump truck flow coming onto Granite Hill (researched and proven to be one of the most dangerous stretches of Highway 95 from Hayden to Sandpoint) and (2) The size of the project has shrunk to 20 acres - and, how does that affect the noise, dust and dangers of the crushing operation itself - is the equipment a mini-me version???

    The project itself has always (from the very first application by Haman) been touted as a temporary project - the only difference is now Scarsella can put a time line to THEIR INVOLVEMENT in it. When did anything profitable run by big money remain temporary (ask the Rathdrum neighbors to Haman's other "crushing" deal how they feel after all this time and their fight!) - read "foot in the door" If we cannot defeat this dangerous project before it starts, we will never get rid of it once it is established.

    "Temporary" may appear different to different people....for a young person it is a heart beat, a mere breath: for my husband, a Veteran with COPD, the temporary nature of this project will mark his last heart beat and his last breath- for us, the dust will make this a lifetime.

    All the other issues and all the other conditions remain the same. With the exception of the fact that this winter the directly next door neighbor of this project has clear cut all their timber off the 3 parcels of land they own, making the slope even more prone to slippage! The proposed site is still:
    1. Located over the edge of the aquafer - possible water contamination and ground well problems
    2. Located on the rim of a natural amphitheater - dust and noise - exacerbation of breathing problems
    3. Adjacent to Trans Canaga's gas pipeline - have you seen a video of a pipeline rupture
    4. Located up the hill from a wetlands -Fish and Wildlife letter puts forth the possibility of PERMANENT disruption of habitat for some species and danger to all animals for the duration of the mine
    5. Located in a RURAL RESIDENTIAL neighborhood (on the Kootenai side) and directly over a RURAL 5 neighborhood of 5+ acre tracts with houses and hobby farms - decline in property values and quiet enjoyment of our lands
    6. Located in a neighborhood where ALL the residential neighbors got here first - NO FAIR - it is not as if we all decided to move next to a crushing plant!

    No legal conditions have changed....the property has not been rezoned and the land use codes have not changed: all the residents have not moved and/ or died off (yet!): and, lastly I would like to assure David L Haman, the Scarsella Brothers and the eventual operator of this proposed mine (Knife River???) that your neighbors are still in opposition to this potentially fatal proposition and we are more than a little irked to have to revisit it again and again! Einstein said "Insanity - Doing the same thing over and over agin and expecting the same results" WC Fields merely said " If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it."

    This project does NOT fit in with the BONNER COUNTY COMPREHENSIVE PLAN and the previous application (remember "same plan different day") was unanimously REJECTED by the entire Board (Comissioners Williams, Shaver, Daar, and Rumore)at the last public hearing on the matter. A two page letter of denial was sent to Mr. Haman on September 15 giving all the reasons for denial and the Board's conclusions.

    This is the THIRD time Mr. Haman has tried to bulldoze over neighbors to his vacant property (he lives in Hayden) - MIGHT DOES NOT MAKE RIGHT!

    Please help my neighbors and me to fight this bully - please write letters opposing the project and better yet show up at 5:30 pm on Thursday March 7, 2013 at the public hearing which will be held in the 1ST FLOOR conference room of the BONNER COUNTY ADMINISTRATION BUILDING, 1500 HIGHWAY 2, SANDPOINT IDAHO. Letters of more than one page must be submitted before Feb 28th to be considered. Mail to BONNER COUNTY PLANNING , 1500 hIGHWAY 2, SUITE 208, SANDPOINT IDAHO 83864 or emailed to Include File #C959-12

    Please help me and in conclusion remember Pastor Neimoller's famous quote

    First they came for the socialists,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.
    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew.
    Then they came for me,
    and there was no one left to speak for me.

  • atholrez posted at 4:46 pm on Thu, Feb 14, 2013.

    atholrez Posts: 6

    A temporary business? They won't be hiring any people from here. This is already a set contract with Scarsella Brothers. If you look at the proposal, it specifically says the people working in the gravel pit are current employees. This pit is not creating jobs.

    This guy isn't going to make it temporary, it will be a long term deal. Sadly, once this type of operation is put in, the residents in the area have no say so when he decides to extend the permit for 2 year blocks, nor will residents get to say anything about "emergency operations" which will put the operation on a 24/7 schedule.

    There is more than enough gravel in within a mile of this proposed pit. In fact, the contract has already been awarded to a supplier. Why put local gravel pits out of business to allow one man the chance to fatten his pockets while destroying the property others have worked so hard for?

    The big picture is wells will be ruined, quality of life will be ruined, my kids' safety will be at risk due to the gravel trucks interfering with the bus route and on and on. If anybody is willing to have a gravel pit next door, go ahead and give these guys a call.

  • wilson posted at 4:27 pm on Thu, Feb 14, 2013.

    wilson Posts: 1055

    Why discourage a temporary business? Let's allow some of our local people a chance for some work. If they can't get gravel there, they will haul it from wherever , at greater expense and damage to the environment from long haul trucking and wear and tear on the roads. Look at the big picture, people!