The Fresno County Planning Commission approved a controversial proposal for a gravel mining project near the Kings River north of Reedley today on a 6-1 vote.
The Carmelita Project is a planned 886 acre gravel mine between Reed Avenue and the Kings River. The project will be divided into 22 mining "cells" each of them 40 acres in size and up to 50 feet deep. Over the next 100 years, the mine will produce as much as 1.25 million tons of sand and rock each year. The land is owned by Fresno based Gerawan Farming, and is currently home to fruit orchards.
Project supporters claim that the operation will be environmentally responsible, and that the land isn't easy to farm due to the abundance of river rocks in the soil. The proposal calls for the mining pits to be reclaimed as water ponds.
The vast majority of those in attendance at today's meeting voiced concerns about the project and its impacts on the environment. They say the project could pollute and deplete the groundwater supply, threatening a large stand of native valley oak trees adjacent to the site. Others raised concerns about the amount of truck traffic the mine would generate and potential impacts to air traffic at the nearby Reedley Municipal Airport.
Earlier this year, the planning commission rejected a proposal for another aggregate mine nearby on Jesse Morrow Mountain. The owners of that proposed project are appealing that decision to the Fresno County Board of Supervisors later this month.
The planning commission's approval is likely to be appealed to the Fresno County Board of Supervisors.