Transportation officials will stay out of the Syar quarry expansion battle that is playing out before the Napa County Planning Commission, though they will be interested observers.
Syar Industries wants to enlarge its 497-acre quarry southeast of the city of Napa by 124 acres. It asked the Napa County Transportation and Planning Agency to write a letter of support.
Last week, the NCTPA Board of Directors considered approving a letter stating that hauling aggregate from out-of-county quarries would significantly boost local road construction expenses. In the case of a large project such as the proposed Soscol Junction flyover, the letter said, the additional cost would be millions of dollars.
The board unanimously tabled the proposed letter. Rather, it will let the controversial issue play out in front of the county Planning Commission without its advice.
“It seems to me appropriate, indeed essential, we exercise administrative deference,” said board member and St. Helena Mayor Alan Galbraith.
The proposed letter envisioned a day when the Napa quarry wouldn’t be supplying aggregate for local roads and construction projects. Shipping 50,000 tons of aggregate from the Syar Lake Herman quarry in Solano County for a recycled water project underway on Imola Avenue would have cost an extra $105,000, it said.
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Following the NCTPA meeting, Syar spokesman John Perry said the quarry without expansion has enough high-quality rock to make asphalt for about a year. The quarry might remain open for five years, given the other products it supplies.
Board members heard from several speakers opposed to the Syar expansion. These speakers outlined concerns previously heard during lengthy county Planning Commission meetings, from damage to wildlife habitat to groundwater reduction to increased particulate matter in the air.
Speakers had only a few minutes to make their cases during public comments. One speaker asked the board to seek more information from opponents.
“This is obviously a controversial issue,” Galbraith said.
Still, while tabling the letter, some board members said their towns have a stake in the Syar expansion outcome. They asked that NCTPA staff make transportation information available to county planners.
Napa County has yet to set a date for the next Planning Commission hearing on the proposed Syar quarry expansion. The quarry is located along Highway 221 in hills east of Napa Valley College.