With the blessing from a state agency, the Santa Barbara County Planning Commission on Wednesday unanimously approved a proposal to conduct deep mining at a rock quarry near Solvang.
The action occurred after the commission’s conceptual approval in late July that sent the proposal to the state Department of Conservation Division of Mine Reclamation, which had no additional charges to the proposal, county planning staff said Wednesday.
Commissioners voted 4-0 on Wednesday to approve the project, with Commissioner Vincent Martinez absent.
The Buellflat Rock Company Deep Mining Reclamation proposal will extend the life of the existing mine by 20 years — to 2038. Buellflat is located at 1214 Mission Drive adjacent to Solvang.
Under the proposal, deep mining could produce up to 518,149 cubic yards of material over the life of the mine.
Deep mining would occur in a previously mined section, known as Area A, going 30 feet deeper than the current grade, with the mining pit’s maximum depth being 60 feet.
Mining for sand, rock and gravel has occurred at the site since the 1930s.
The Planning Commission’s action Wednesday was a formality and involved little discussion, unlike previous reviews in June and July that led to changes.
“Our sole purpose today really, unless somebody had just a great change of mind, is to review whatever comments were made by DMR and adjust our findings and our approval to that,” Third District Commissioner John Parke said. “Of course, we had no comments whatsoever from DMR so it seems pretty simple.”
In June, commissioners raised concerns about truck traffic, noise and dust, leading to a decision to delay the item.
By the July meeting, the applicant voluntarily agreed to reduce the maximum daily truck trips from 358 to 200, add signage with the contact information for complaints, and install an 8-foot berm on the western and northern boundaries to shield the pit from neighbors.
“We had a very good look at the project a couple of months ago and the only question was whether we would receive comments from the state…and did not so I think we’re ready to vote,” Chair C. Michael Cooney said.
Neighbors raised concerns about dust, noise, air quality, traffic levels and more due to the mining operation.