Commission OKs controversial mining project near Rapid City

RAPID CITY (AP) – The Pennington County Commission has approved the expansion of a limestone mine south of Rapid City, over the objections of about a dozen people who testified against granting the permits.

The commission approved the request by Croell Inc. Friday at the end of a seven-hour public meeting that grew heated at times, the Rapid City Journal reported. The vote in favor of each of the three permits was 4-1, although lone dissenter Lloyd LaCroix said he just didn't want "a unanimous vote."

Croell Inc. sells redi-mix concrete and other associated products and services. The company plans to expand the Perli Pit Quarry, which is off a highway that leads to the Mount Rushmore National Memorial. Some residents worry about increased truck traffic, potential releases of harmful chemicals and gases, and harm to the area scenery.

The project would expand the 34-acre site by another 70 acres over the next several decades. A lawsuit over the legality of mining ordinances that the county amended last year is under consideration by the state Supreme Court.

The meeting increased in intensity when audience member Sylvia Cox said the county commissioners sounded like advocates for Croell Inc. and said the group was in a hurry to approve the permits before the Supreme Court rules.

Several commission members said they were offended by Cox's testimony, and sharp words were exchanged between them and Cox until the commission called a five-minute recess.

Commission member Mark DiSanto said the concerns by citizens were considered by the group.

"We hear you," DiSanto said. "We're going to monitor this."

The city's planning commission voted in favor of the permits earlier in the week after a hearing that lasted five hours. The projected needed final approval by the county commission.


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