Supervisors Call Agreement “Extortion”
Sonora, CA — Following a heated speech, the Tuolumne County Supervisors approved a settlement agreement regarding the Cooperstown Quarry.
The quarry project in south Tuolumne County has been held up by a pair of lawsuits filed by the City of Riverbank and local environmental groups. The lawsuits centered over the increased amount of rail traffic that will pass through Riverbank, and Tuolumne County’s decision not to require a full Environmental Impact Report for the project.
The settlement agreement, negotiated by the various parties involved, calls for the Cooperstown Quarry, owned by Jack and Tricia Gardella, to pay Riverbank $0.07, per ton, for all products and material extracted from the site. The operators will pay the City of Riverbank a $500K advance on the per ton fees over the course of the first five years.
District Two Supervisor Randy Hanvelt gave a heated speech against the agreement, referring to it as “extortion,” and a violation of the “spirit of the Constitution.” Board Chair Dick Pland also used the word “extortion” at one point when referring to the item.
“This in un-American, and it is anti-constitutional,” said Hanvelt. “It is flat out wrong.”
In addition, the quarry will pay the attorney fees for the City of Riverbank ($185,000) and the environmental groups ($87,525). Hanvelt noted that Tuolumne County had only spent around $14,000 in legal fees.
Hanvelt still voted in favor. He said he was contacted by one of the project applicants, urging him to approve the agreement, despite all the stipulations. “I am going to vote for it because of that, but we need to take action as citizens of this country to change the system, and not allow this type of thing to happen.”
Hanvelt feels that the current system has forced him and others to be like, in his words, “prostitutes.”
The final vote was 3-0. Supervisors John Gray and Evan Royce were both absent from the meeting.