Kane County spikes proposal to allow 24/7 mining operations

The Lafarge conveyer belt that moves the sand and gravel from one part of the site to another is seen here near Blackberry Township.

One of the larger gravel quarries in Kane County hoped to extend mining operations later into the night, but it couldn’t dig its way out of an avalanche of concerns about noise, dust and declining property values from neighbors.

The Kane County Board voted last week against a proposal to allow 24/7 mining operations.

Residents told county board members that Route 47, where the LaFarge mine operates near Elburn, is a speedway for trucks that often blare their horns and hit the gas rather than stop for red lights. The beeping of trucks backing up can be heard throughout the night, and dust that wafts out of the mining pit cakes homes and vehicles in dust thick enough to draw pictures.

“They just keep pushing and pushing,” neighbor Kelsey Minalga said. “This is no quality of life.”

LaFarge officials asked county staff to create a zoning path for 24/7 mining if approved by the county board. The facility operated beyond the allowed 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. in recent years under an emergency decree related to a gravel shortage and the pandemic. With the end of the emergency, LaFarge officials wanted to keep the extended hours in place, but that would require a change in county code.

If approved, the code change would have opened the door to 24/7 mining operations for all 12 quarries in Kane County. For neighbors of the LaFarge mine, that meant the potential for another significant impact to their lives within just a few years. The LaFarge operation received permission to expand the mine in 2019 after agreeing with neighbors and the county to stick to 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. operations and monitor noise, dust and light.

Neighbors to the LaFarge mine peppered county board members with letters detailing the number of times LaFarge hadn’t stuck to the agreement. They also hosted the county board members who represent the area where the quarry is situated for a recent public complaint session. They backed up those concerns by showing up to the county board’s vote on the code change to reinforce those fears in person.

“Would you buy a house across the street from a mine that had the potential for 24/7 operation?” resident Carol Green Clulow said. “I don’t think so. The gravel pit has been there. That’s true. But the expansion has not. What you can’t deny is by granting this change you’d be making a bad situation on Route 47 worse.”

With LaFarge not speaking publicly to refute any of the neighbors’ concerns, county board members said they’d heard enough.

“In 2019, there was a negotiated settlement and the 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. limit was a very big jump,” county board member Mo Iqbal said. “Now we are doubling it. I don’t think it’s reasonable.”

County board member Mavis Bates agreed.