Judge says Maytown mining can start

A Lewis County judge has sided with the new owners of a Thurston County industrial site and the Port of Tacoma in granting a summary judgment allowing gravel mining to begin there.

Superior Court Richard L. Brosey granted the summary judgment late last week to Maytown Sand & Gravel LLC and the port. That ruling reverses the Thurston County Board of Commissioners’ decision to require new environmental studies on the gravel mining site.

The judge’s ruling also reinstates a finding by Thurston County hearings examiner Sharon Rice that the sand and gravel company holds a valid special use permit for mining on the site.

An environmental group, which has fought the creation of an industrial activity on the 745-acre site near Maytown, vowed Tuesday to appeal Brosey’s decision.

Friends of Rocky Prairie spokeswoman Sharon Coontz said the group believes that new studies should be undertaken.

“Naturally we are disappointed,” she said. “We are planning to appeal the judge’s ruling.”

The court decision was the latest chapter in a running battle between the port and Thurston County environmental groups over the site. The port bought the tract in 2006 intending to develop it as a rail yard and industrial site.

The site came with a permit to mine gravel on the land. When the port ran into resistance from Thurston County groups that wanted the land preserved as open space and wildlife habitat and when the economy turned sour, it put the land up for sale.

Maytown Sand & Gravel bought the land with the intent of mining gravel.

The port, while no longer the owner, retains an interest in the site’s fate because the sales agreement calls for the port to be paid in part with gravel from the mine.