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DEQ identifies "substantial issues" with Helena Valley gravel pit plan

Posted at 7:02 PM, May 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-27 21:02:22-04

Montana state regulators say an application to build a gravel pit in the Helena Valley has some “substantial issues” that must be addressed if the project is to move forward.

Kim Smith, the owner of Valley Sand and Gravel, requested a permit last summer to mine sand and gravel on a 61-acre site about two miles north of Helena. The roughly L-shaped property is north of Mill Road and west of McHugh Drive.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality released a letter Tuesday, outlining a number of deficiencies in Smith’s plan of operation. That means work on the project can’t begin unless Smith submits a revised application addressing the issues raised.

The gravel pit proposal has drawn strong opposition from many nearby landowners.

“At this point in the process, we’ve already done a public hearing, we’ve already responded and received public comments, and then we’ve made our decision to issue a deficiency letter,” said Moira Davin, a public relations specialist with DEQ. “So now it’s up to the operator to decide whether they want to address the issues and resubmit the application.”

Among other points, DEQ’s letter called for Smith to do additional work to mitigate the noise from the pit, provide additional documentation on how they will prevent impacts to nearby groundwater and septic tanks, and confirm that the proposal fits with Lewis and Clark County’s plans for flood mitigation in the Helena Valley.

MTN contacted Kim Smith on Wednesday. He declined to make any immediate comment on DEQ’s letter.