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Bills Could Bypass Public Debate On Gregory Canyon, Liberty Quarry

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After years of public hearings, the fate of two controversial projects in north San Diego County could be in the hands of the state legislature. A bill to block the Gregory Canyon landfill passed a key vote today.

The Gregory Canyon landfill and the Liberty Quarry have something in common. Developers have spent more than a decade and millions of dollars to get approval, and both projects are now challenged by bills making their way through the state legislature, backed by Native American bands.

One bill, SB 833, by California Senator Juan Vargas, would prohibit construction of the landfill within 1,000 feet of the San Luis Rey River and Indian sacred sites. The bill has already passed the Senate and will go to the Assembly floor after passing a key vote this afternoon.

The second project is the Liberty Mine, a quarry planned just north of the San Diego County line on Interstate 15. It’s proposed on a 400-acre site in Riverside near Temecula, but most of the aggregate from the mine would be used in San Diego.

Granite Construction, the company applying to develop the mine, chose to apply for permits in Riverside County after San Diego County supervisors took more than 20 years to approve a similar project.

The Pechanga Band is backing bill AB 742, which would ban the mine. The operation is proposed for land near the source of the Santa Margarita River where Indian legend has it the tribe was originally created.

Dozens of public hearings on the quarry have attracted up to 2,000 people. The Riverside Planning Commission will cast its final vote on that project next week.

If the state bills seeking to prevent the projects pass both houses, they would then go to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature. There is no indication what Brown would do if both embattled issues end up on his desk.

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