Goni residents upset over sand pit | NevadaAppeal.com

Goni residents upset over sand pit

Amanda Hammon, Appeal Staff Writer
Photo by Rick GunnGoni resident Cindy Howard look at the Cinderlite sand quarry on Tuesday. The proposed expansion of the sand pit has area residents -- who feel the site has not been properly rehabilitated -- asking that the permit to operate the site be taken away.

Goni Road residents want the city to shut down a sand pit operating in their neighborhood.

Members of the Goni Canyon Preservation League said Gary Lehman, owner of Cinderlite Trucking, broke promises of rehabilitating a neighborhood eyesore when he reopened an old gravel pit in 1993 and should now have his permit to operate taken away.

In a May Carson City Planning Commission meeting, league members presented planning commissioners with information about alleged mismanagement at the pit in a canyon off Goni Road. They protested Lehman’s plans to ask for a permit for 80 more acres of property on which to expand, and commissioners ordered an investigation into their allegations.

Standing near the site recently, Cindy Howard pointed to the pit’s steep slopes as rocks slip down the sides in a steady trickle. There’s no fence around a site that she said is easily accessible and presents a safety risk to curious children playing on neighboring public land. The pit, she said, is deeper and its slopes steeper and less stable than envisioned by anyone who originally backed the site’s excavation.

The original conditions of the permit asked for “progressive rehabilitation of the site during excavation operations, with a minimum cover of six inches of top soil and native plant materials.”

Initial rehabilitation work was to be done by Aug. 1994. In 1995 correspondence between Howard and former planner Juan Guzman, he wrote the site “appears to be in non-compliance, slopes too steep to revegetate, no vegetation.”

Still, promised yearly reviews of the permit haven’t stopped its operation, Howard said.

“This is so far out of compliance,” she said. “When do we say the use has been used?”

Goni area homeowners backed Cinderlite’s operation in 1993 because Lehman agreed to excavate within certain natural boundaries and would reclaim and revegetate the slopes sequentially with the excavation, said Viki Elini.

She wants to see city planning commissioners revoke Lehman’s special use permit for not complying with its conditions and force him to apply for another permit, which she doesn’t think he’ll receive.

Goni neighbor Mike Barrette said even if the neighbors are successful in halting or limiting operations at the plant, the required bond set aside to revegetate the site won’t be nearly enough.

“Unfortunately, you’re not going to fix that land for $7,500,” Barrette said. “You can’t landscape your back yard for $10,000.”

Lehman refused to comment on pit operations or his neighbors charges, saying only that he has to appease planning commissioners and no one else. He said his neighbors have opinions, but “they don’t know the facts.”

Planning commissioners will receive an update on the pit July 31. Senior planner Lee Plemel noted in a letter to Lehman that he is in violation of five of 17 conditions of his operating permit, including revegetation and rehabilitation of the slopes. Plemel said planning commissioners will have to decide whether there is “cause for reexamination of special use permit or grounds for possible revocation.” Another hearing would have to be held to determine whether Lehman could lose his permit.