A second public hearing on the city’s mining moratorium got renewed criticism and a tepid turnout Tuesday night.
With only four approaching the dais, the most pointed shots came from representatives from Spokane County and Central Pre-Mix. While the moratorium does not affect existing operations at gravel pit sites, county engineers have stated it stalls a planned gravel pit near Tschirley Road east of Sullivan Road and north of the river.
Stacy Bjordahl, an attorney representing Central Pre-Mix, said there is “no support” for the ban, which was enacted under an emergency ordinance in February, as there is no public outcry that it is necessary.
“You should repeal it,” she said. “I think it has got a very cold reception.”
While the council reaffirmed the moratorium in April by a 6-0 vote after a previous, well-attended public hearing, a decision was made to hold a second hearing after it was determined formal notice was not published beforehand in the Spokane Valley News Herald, the city’s official newspaper. Public hearings are typically advertised in the paper’s legal section in advance.
The moratorium was requested by city staff to hit the pause button on new mining permits. As they go through the city’s comprehensive plan update process, planners wish to review mineral resource land-use designations and regulations and determine whether mining operations are compatible with existing industrial zones.
Lance Senter, however, told the council that the moratorium is bad for business, as the excavated sand and gravel is needed for road paving and other uses.
“You are bound and determined to end mining in Spokane Valley,” Senter told the council. “You say Spokane Valley is a business-friendly city, but I don’t believe that is true.”
The mining moratorium is in effect through Feb. 23, 2016, or until the city adopts permanent regulations. The council will take two votes to adopt findings of fact on the ordinance on Aug. 11 and Aug. 25.