County commissioners will hear from the public on surface mining overlay map

Commissioners will have the final say

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On Tuesday, June 3, the Clark County Commission will hold a public hearing on the proposed surface mining overlay map. It is a document that received impassioned feedback from Livingston Mountain residents, when it was discussed by the County Planning Commission in late 2013.

The proposed surface mining overlay map is part of an update being conducted for Clark County’s mineral resource lands regulations. Counties planning under the Growth Management Act are required to identify, designate and protect mineral resource lands that are not already characterized by urban growth and that have long-term significance for the extraction of minerals.

A Mineral Lands Task Force met 13 times between November 2011 and August 2013 to develop the recommendations for updating the SMO map, policies and standards.

In October 2013 following five hours of public testimony, the Clark County Planning Commission voted 5-0 to remove all Livingston Mountain area land parcels from the proposed surface mining overlay map, and require a traffic study. Two other significant areas, Bell Mountain and Yacolt Mountain, were also removed.

Primary concerns expressed by Livingston Mountain residents have included traffic safety, water quality and quantity, decreased property values, as well as the visual impacts of adding more rock quarry operations to the ones that already exist in the area.

In response to the possibility of expanding gravel mining operations in the area, Livingston Mountain residents have formed two non-profit groups — Citizens Alliance of Livingston Mountain and Friends of Livingston Mountain — in opposition to the proposed surface mining overlay update. Friends of Livingston Mountain has also hired attorney David Mann of Gendler & Mann LLP.

Mining operations that currently exist in the Livingston Mountain and nearby areas have been sharply criticized several times during the Planning Commission public hearing process for not abiding by set rules, guidelines and standards.

The public hearing will begin at 6 p.m., at the Clark County Public Service Center sixth floor training room, 1300 Franklin St., Vancouver.

The Clark County Commission will make the final decision to approve the surface mining overlay map as recommended by the Planning Commission, or with changes.

There are currently two members of the Clark County Commission — David Madore and Tom Mielke. The third seat, previously held by Steve Stuart who resigned in April, could be filled by the time of the surface mining overlay public hearing.

Today at 1 p.m., Madore and Mielke will hold public interviews of the three candidates submitted by the Clark County Democratic Central Committee. Those candidates include former State Sen. Craig Pridemore, who is the DCC’s top choice, as well as Kelly Love Parker, Vancouver Chamber of Commerce executive director, and retired labor leader Ed Barnes.