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Helena Valley gravel pit application officially abandoned
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Helena Valley gravel pit application officially abandoned

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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.

After issuing a second deficiency notice June 10, the Montana Department of Environmental Quality has officially deemed an application for a gravel pit in the Helena Valley abandoned.

The proposed 61.5-acre gravel pit was proposed for a site in the north valley and would have bordered Rhonda Road, McHugh Drive, Mill Road, Edgerton Road and Hedges Drive. The site, referred to as McHugh 2 in DEQ documents, was expected to impact 604 residences within a half-mile radius of the proposed site.

The notice of abandonment for the application was issued to Helena Valley Sand and Gravel owner Kim Smith on Wednesday. The letter cites the first and second deficiency notices issued on May 26, 2020, and June 10, 2021. According to the letter, the application that was first received on July 16, 2019, has been abandoned and void in accordance with MCA 82-4-432(4)(c).

Both deficiency notices for the site listed dozens of deficiencies and inconsistencies and related to failure to provide adequate protections for the area's groundwater quality and noise pollution. The application would receive two extensions under the Opencut Mining Act, under which the proposal was submitted.

The gravel pit was heavily protested by several hundred homeowners in the impact radius of the project site. These citizens organized groups opposing the pit and showed up in force for 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. 

This determination marks the end for the McHugh 2 Site, bringing a conclusion to this years-long application process. 

However, Smith still has the ability to file a new application for the project. 

"If an operator wanted to try again to permit this or any other site that is not already permitted, that would be allowed," a DEQ spokesperson said. 

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