Madera County supervisors explain decision to pass quarry project despite heated opposition

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After nearly 12 contentious hours of debate, the Madera County Board of Supervisors finally made a decision - voting 3 to 2 in favor of the project. (KFSN)

The vote is in but concerns linger about the future of the proposed Austin Quarry in Madera County. After nearly 12 contentious hours of debate, the Madera County Board of Supervisors finally made a decision - voting 3 to 2 in favor of the project.

The hearing started at 9 a.m. Monday and ended after the sun had set. More than a hundred supporters and a hundred opponents signed up to speak and the passion was heated on both sides. The morning of testimonies at the Madera County Government Center then turned into an afternoon of deliberation.

"I'm feeling like I'm fighting for my way of life and my community," said Shawn Summers, who opposed the proposal.

The room sat divided along party line as more than 150 people testified on Monday. Neighbors in red were against the quarry and spoke first and then in blue were many current employees of Vulcan Material, defending their companies reputation.

"As we get the opportunity to sit down and work them, they'll find us to be a good neighbor. Everything we've told you about our over 400 quarries is true. We work with our local communities," Michael Linton with the company said.

Brett Frazier represents the neighborhood that would be most affected by construction. He and another board member voted "no" because families were afraid the project would dry up wells and cause traffic problems on the road.

"I care deeply for my community," he said. "And it was evident they were scared today, and I'll work hard to make sure they're taken care of after the fact."

But the majority of board members voted for the project. They say the opposition led by Madera Quarry, a competing company, used scare tactics and spread false information about the project to neighbors.

"They started out by saying there was no demand for material and no need for another quarry," District 2 supervisor David Roger said. "But the fact is they themselves are expanding their quarry."

Some of the board members tried adding amendments prior to voting to create more money for road construction and put in recharge basins. But in the end, they were never put in paper and doubts continue to linger.

"They are on a handshake that we will do it," Frazier said. "To me, that's just not good enough. For me, it needed to be a condition of approval."
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