Task Force Eyes Gravel Pits

Task Force Eyes Gravel Pits

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Gravel pit operations cause a host of problems from fouling air quality to damaging roads, and cities can do little else but complain, officials in many Wasatch Front communities say.

On Thursday, administrators from Pleasant View, Brigham City, Draper and others chimed in before members of the Gravel Pits Task Force, a legislative group studying the impact of the state's 124 gravel pits and recommending solutions to state lawmakers.

Pleasant View City Engineer Mark Miller says his Weber County city now has 150 gravel trucks per day driving on main city roads and tearing them up in the process.

In Brigham City, dust from pits is irritating residents and kicking up their allergies and respiratory ailments.

"It is in the engine of my Camry, my swamp cooler and on my window sills ... ," said Brigham City Councilman John Adams.

Draper City Manager Eric Keck wants gravel pit operators at Point of the Mountain to quit ignoring nearby residents' complaints about blasting and the damage it's doing to the foundations of their homes.

"The calls go unanswered by the pit operators," he said.

There's little cities can do other than complain, Brigham City Mayor Lou Ann Christensen and Utah League of Cities and Towns legislative analyst Lincoln Shurtz told task force members. State law exempts gravel pits from reclamation efforts to repair damage from operations and many of the pits predate regulatory laws and are "grandfathered" from having to comply with nuisance and other ordinances.

Moreover, they said, fully loaded gravel trucks are taxed the same -- 24.5 cents per gallon -- as cars despite having 14,000 times the impact.

And Brigham City leaders say revenues from pits are pitiful. The city's yearly take in sales tax revenues from three pits covering 363 acres totals $52,000, compared with the $191,000 it gathers from a single supermarket on four acres.

Randy Anderson, a vice president for gravel pit operator Staker and Parson Companies, called for preservation of high-grade sand and gravel pits, such as the ones in Brigham City and near Draper.

"I think we get regulated a lot," Anderson said.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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