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Public meeting scheduled to address controversial Lehigh quarry plans

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Courtesy of Jitze Couperus/Special to the Town Crier
Lehigh Southwest Cement Co. officials are proposing expansion plans, which will likely be discussed at a public meeting in Cupertino Feb. 13. Critics are concerned about the alleged visual and environmental impacts.

Lehigh Southwest Cement Co.’s latest proposals to expand operations likely will be discussed at an upcoming public information meeting scheduled 7-9 p.m. Feb. 13 at Cupertino Community Hall.

Officials with the Lehigh cement plant and quarry, located in the Cupertino foothills just south of Los Altos, are proposing to dig a second pit as part of “reclamation plan” amendments and to import material from outside the quarry to fill the existing pit rather than use material on-site. Lehigh critics are concerned plans could worsen a ridgeline “viewshed,” in violation of a 1972 agreement, and create more pollution through increased truck traffic importing material into the quarry.

Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian, who arranged the meeting, said it would include a “multi-agency, informational update” related to cement plant and quarry operations.

“Given that almost a dozen regulatory agencies have a role to play at the site, I thought it was a good idea to create a forum where the agencies can all talk to each other,” Simitian said in a statement.

Simitian said the meeting’s purpose is to review and discuss the status of various local, state and federal agency oversight efforts, permitting processes and pending applications for cement plant and quarry operations. Agency staff will be available to provide information in response to questions from the public.

Los Altos resident Libby Lucas, a longtime observer of Lehigh activities, is concerned about expansion plans impacting local watersheds. She plans to attend the meeting.

“Aside from grim visual impacts to scenic ridgeline, there is critical concern in quarrying through ridge into Stevens Creek watershed, which will connect it with Permanente Creek watershed to result in permanent diversion of surface and underground stream flows,” Lucas said, noting that it could increase flooding potential for Permanente in Los Altos.

Simitian said that given the fact that Lehigh has recently submitted two applications for reclamation plan amendments, “I expect the level of public interest will be high.”

Cupertino Community Hall is located at 10350 Torre Ave. For more information, visit supervisorsimitian.com.

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