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By Jonathan Goetz

Photo: The project is bordered by existing sand projects to the north and east

May 23, 2017 (Lakeside) -- The Lakeside Community Planning Group  on May 17 approved by a 10-0 vote a major use permit for East County Sand LLC to extract sand from 19.23 of 27.39 acres in the heavy industrial portion of Hwy-67 and Vigilante Road. The project still needs to go before the County Planning Commission. Upon conclusion, it will host 8.8 acres of wetland in Slaughterhouse Creek and San Vicente Creekbed at the north end of Moreno Valley in Lakeside.

This is a separate project from the more controversial sand mining project proposed in El Monte Valley, which remains pending.

The plan calls for a fence screen surrounding the project and the county established requirements regarding the horse trail on the southern end of the project. A California licensed landscape architect, architect, or civil engineer must sign off on the landscaping pursuant to the County of San Diego Water Efficient Landscape Design Manual, Water Conservation in Landscaping Ordinance and Grading Ordinance, and the Lakeside Design Guidelines according to application amendment form regarding major use permit PDS2009-3300-09-016.

During the breeding season of certain birds, mining operations are prohibited without written permission from the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife pursuant to the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and the applicable Biological Mitigation Ordinance.

The maximum amount of sand that can be extracted in any given year is 300,000 tons, although the engineer estimates an average of 86,000 tons per year to reach the 944,000 ton project total. The elevation floor is 415 feet above mean sea level. Mining can occur between 7am-5pm Monday through Saturday.

The project permit is for 15 years, however mining will probably only occur for the first  11 years and the remaining portion to establish the wetlands and surrounding habitat in a process known as reclamation. Part of the sign-off process involves the landscaping surviving two years without irrigation.

Project Engineer Ken Discenza of Site Design Associates explains, “As soon as they hit the bottom of the hole, they’ll start the reclamation. That process starts in year three and ends in probably year 17. The reclamation includes both the planting and establishing of the plant material. It’s intended to be a natural habitat that will exist on its own not with irrigation. It’s good for the community and it’s good for the environment, and it brings jobs.”

A woman who lives across from the road where the back of the project will be on Morena Avenue objected due to the impact to her view and associated traffic.  She lives on a hill east of the proposed East County Sand Mine.

Valley Fever is not expected to be a concern, as it is in El Monte Valley, because the sand in El Monte Valley comes from the San Diego River whereas the sand in Moreno Valley comes from the San Vicente Creek.

Chair of the Lakeside Community Planning Group Milt Cyphert, told East County Magazine, “In the long run I think it’s going to make Lakeside a better place and that is why we as a board came to that conclusion to approve it.”

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