Open Pit Mine Update

Doug Power
Director, Dartford Austin Neighborhood Assoc.

Last year a local landowner and Spokane County attempted to enlarge the size of an open pit mine on Austin road just east of Dartford road. The mining site sits within the drainage for the Little Spokane River. Even with strong opposition from the neighbors, Spokane County Commissioners approved the zoning change to increase the mine size.

The neighbors banded together and formed the Dartford Austin Neighborhood Association to challenge the zoning change with the Washington State Hearings Review Board. Our legal challenge was successful and the zoning change was denied by the state of Washington. In the course of our research for the challenge we found a Spokane County Hearings Examiner ruled years ago that no excavation was allowed on the now working site of the open pit mine.

The landowner still holds a reclamation permit from the Department of Natural Resources and continues to remove sand from the mine. We have been speaking with both Spokane County Building and Planning and the Department of Natural Resources about the site being allowed to continue mining now that we have uncovered the prior legal ruling. Neither agency is responding to our inquiries. We believe they are intentionally avoiding us due to the unpleasant legal position they have put themselves in by allowing mining in contrast to the earlier ruling.

As for now we are continuing our efforts to communicate with both government agencies to find a path to end the illegal mining that has been taking place in our neighborhood for years.

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