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DEQ issues second deficiency notice for proposed Helena Valley gravel pit
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DEQ issues second deficiency notice for proposed Helena Valley gravel pit

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Gravel pit map

The highlighted area shows the location of a proposed 61.5-acre gravel pit in the Helena Valley.

More than a year after the first deficiency notice was issued, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality has issued a second deficiency notice against a proposed 61.5 acre gravel pit in Helena's north valley. 

The second notice, issued on June 10, says the proposal as submitted by Valley Sand and Gravel LLC has dozens of deficiencies and inconsistencies. Many are the same deficiencies found in the first notice, which was issued in May of 2020 and relate to groundwater quality and noise pollution in the immediate area. 

According to the notice, if Valley Sand and Gravel LLC fails to respond to the deficiencies described within 30 days of the letter's date, the application will be declared abandoned and voided. The deficiency replies must be fully addressed for a review to occur. 

The application for the project was submitted under the Opencut Mining Act and was deemed deficient after multiple review period extensions in 2020. 

The proposed pit would boarder Ronda Road, McHugh Drive, Mill Road, Edgerton Road and Hedges Drive. It was also expected to impact approximately 604 residences within a half-mile radius of the proposed site. 

The proposed gravel pit has been heavily protested by several hundred homeowners in the impact radius of the project site. Residents Ed Sherman and Archie Harper are among those who led the charge in uniting area citizens against the pit. 

Many showed up to voice their displeasure during a public forum held in February 2020. Groundwater pollution, air quality pollution, noise levels and increased traffic from gravel trucks were just some of the concerns brought forth by the citizens at that meeting. 

Kim Smith, Valley Sand and Gravel's owner, said when issues such as these arose at other sites owned by his company, he has always immediately stopped production. However, these assurances did little to dissuade the area residents. 

The 17-page letter deeming the project deficient once again lays out dozens of inconsistencies and inadequacies in the project proposal. It is unclear if any further extensions can be requested via DEQ regarding a third review of the project proposal. 

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