RIVERSIDE (CNS) – A hearing on whether to approve a mining company’s application for “vested rights,” potentially allowing it to expand operations over a nearly 1,000-acre space in close proximity to residential areas, was postponed by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors Tuesday after the applicants said they weren’t prepared.
“This is the second continuance, and I hope this will be the last continuance, ” board Chairman Kevin Jeffries said. “Hopefully they will be prepared to go on May 2.”
If Robertson’s Ready Mix requests one more postponement, its application will be taken off the board calendar, requiring a series of steps to have the matter re-agendized.
The company is seeking confirmation of its rights to 792 acres that surround its original 132-acre site on a hillside that has been used for extraction of rocks for decades south of Cajalco Road and east of Interstate 15 on the boundaries of the Dos Lagos Golf Course, in what’s known as the Temescal Wash, an unincorporated part of Riverside County.
“RRM’s vested activity is aggregate mining, which includes excavation, crushing, washing, sorting, stockpiling, loading, transporting and otherwise managing an aggregate surface and utilizing the equipment to do so,” according to a Department of Planning statement posted to the board’s agenda.
Aggregate is used to build and improve roads, support dams and levees, construct rail lines, as well as for commercial and residential construction projects.
Planning staff are recommending that the board deny RRM’s confirmation of vested rights on 657 of the 792 acres, saying in a report that the company “has not shown by a preponderance of evidence that their predecessors in interest manifested an intent to extend surface mining activities … to the entire proposed vested rights area as of the 1949 vesting date.”
Stone quarries were first established in the area in the 1930s. According to county staff, changes in ownership of the parcels at issue raise doubts as to the legitimacy of RRM’s claims.
“The lack of mining on the property for the past 30 years, and the substantial investments exploring residential development constitute clear and convincing evidence of an intention … to abandon mining operations (on the 657 acres),” according to the Department of Planning.
The California Surface Mining Control & Reclamation Act of 1975 and Riverside County Ordinance No. 555, approved in 2019, are the primary laws governing mining operations locally and provide guidelines for determining vested rights.
RRM said in documents submitted to the board that “the geological and historical context of the mineral region” is vital in recognizing a vested right, and according to the company, the area in question has been rich in pit mines for almost the last century.
“Under the well-established principle that vested rights are property rights that attach to and run with the land, RRM … has succeeded to the vested rights derived from the surface mining operations established under (prior) ownership,” the company said.
Residents with homes surrounding the existing mine expressed dismay that it might be expanded.
“We are original homeowners at Dos Lagos and have had to tolerate and endure RRM’s mining business for 16 years,” Bob Schuch wrote in an email to the Department of Planning. “The mine blasts have cracked our concrete, stucco, pipes and have caused considerable damage to our homes. The constant dirt we breath in, the construction noise around the clock is nonstop.”
Della Sewell said her home backs up to the Dos Lagos Golf Course, and “we have had several problems and damages to our home due to the current mining, which include a $10,000 bill due to broken water pipes.”
“There are several cracks in concrete due to mining in this area, not to mention the monthly earthquake-like activity,” she said.
Justin and Cynara Hutchinson, who reside on Cabot Drive, wrote an extensive email, stating the “mining and explosions unreasonably interfere with the health, safety, welfare, use and enjoyment of our property and the surrounding public at large.”
“When we first purchased the home, we were told they would only be mining once a month, yet Robertson’s Ready Mix oftentimes mines and creates explosions several times a week,” the couple said. “My wife and I work from home, and this disturbance substantially interferes with the enjoyment and use of our property.”
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