A proposed mining area expansion at the Casper Stolle Quarry & Contracting Company is under advisement by the St. Clair County Zoning Board of Appeals.
Casper Stolle, which is asking for permission to be able to expand its mining pit by approximately 65 acres, brought their request Monday to the zoning board.
The mining company, which provides limestone, dirt and aggregate for road and bridge projects, believes it would need to about 50 years to mine the 65 acres, depending on the economy, said company president Anne Cramer.
“It’s about a 50-year plan,” Cramer said. “When plants cost $20 million, and your trucks cost $1.3 million, and your loader is $1.6 million, you need have long-range plans to get financing ...making long-term plans is not something we rush into.”
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Presently the company mines about half-an-acre to an acre a year, Cramer said.
In total, Casper Stolle is asking for a special use permit to add 135 acres to its quarry. However, because of a county requirement to stay at least 1,000 feet from houses, the actual mining area would be about 65 acres located to the south of Casper Stolle’s current operation.
Residents to the east of the expansion area would still see farm ground under the plan, Cramer said.
Planning for this expansion began in 2007, Cramer said.
The zoning board took the request under advisement after Monday’s public hearing, and is scheduled to next discuss the matter on June 8. The zoning board of appeals would then make a recommendation to the County Board on whether to let mining expansion take place.
“I want to reserve my thoughts on this,” said zoning board member Alexa Edwards. “I think most of the members of the board did ... an on-site inspection ...We’re not taking this decision lightly.”
Edwards asked what recourse is available in case there are any issues that arise from an expanded mining area.
“If something goes wrong.. as a concern citizen, as a resident who lived around it, and as a resident of St. Clair County, what is in place to protect our environment and the residents?” Edwards said. “Can we give them immediate remedy to solve the problem and also take care of you? We need to be fair and protect your investment too.”
Cramer said the mine is regulated by the Illinois Department of Natural of Resources, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Mine Safety and Health Administration.
As part of the proposal, is an agreement with the county to keep about 16.5 acres of land on the western edge of the Casper Stolle property as conservation area, with no development or mining.
“We’re committed to do things right, conscientiously, and with respect to the community,” Cramer said.
The company also would stay away from the Falling Springs water recharge area.
The county also hired Steven Esling, a geology professor at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale to help evaluate the mining proposal and studies to see how water flows in the area.
“I think it’s reasonable where they proposed the work, will have minimal to no impact on Falling Springs,” Esling said.
County Board Member June Chartrand spoke at the meeting and said there were several meetings with county staff about protecting Falling Springs. She added she is in favor of granting the expansion request.
“Casper Stolle Quarry has been very cooperative in resolving the issues we’ve had with them,” Chartrand said. “I want no harm to come to the falls and no undue disturbance to come to any nearby resident.”