LIVINGSTON — After months of debate and input from gravel pit operators and homeowners, the Livingston Parish Council on Thursday unanimously adopted the parish’s first set of regulations for the aggregate mining industry.
The rules come in response to Southern Aggregates’ plans to locate a sand-and-gravel mining operation next to Oak Hills Subdivision in Watson.
Councilman Jim Norred, who lives in Oak Hills, sponsored the adopted ordinance, which requires gravel pit operators to limit their hours of operation, build vegetative berms to reduce noise and dust, and maintain a 125-foot buffer zone for neighboring homes.
Norred said he had discussed the final version of the ordinance with gravel industry representatives and Watson-area homeowners to try to find common ground.
“Neither side is really happy with it, but I think it’s something we can coexist and live with,” Norred said. “As a resident, I don’t want a gravel pit right next to me, but as a councilman, I had to put those feelings aside and find the right way forward for the parish.”
Southern Aggregates Vice President Kevin Black said the parish’s mining operators are “not totally supportive” of the adopted regulations, but the final version was the most reasonable one offered in the months of debate.
Black warned, though, that some of the regulations will create additional costs that must be passed on to consumers.
Under the new regulations, pit owners will be allowed to perform maintenance on their equipment and facilities at any time, but mining, washing and loading are restricted to the hours of 5 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
The ordinance also requires pit operators to have a planning meeting with parish officials and a homeowners representative before beginning any new mining operation.
Operations already in existence and producing aggregate are exempt from the new rules but must provide operator information and a site map to the parish within 30 days.
The ordinance adopted Thursday varied significantly from the strict regulations Norred first proposed in September.
Norred and other Oak Hills homeowners expressed concerns about the pit’s potential impact on home values and quality of life, but mining representatives said those concerns are based on misunderstandings about the industry’s operations in general.
Residents have requested a public hearing with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality on Southern Aggregates’ proposed new pit before the agency issues a permit for the project. No date has been set yet for that hearing, DEQ spokesman Greg Langley said Thursday.
Follow Heidi R. Kinchen on Twitter, @HeidiRKinchen.