St. George • A proposed gypsum mine near St. George is drawing strong opposition from nearby residents who say it would bring noise, traffic and air pollution to an unspoiled area.
Residents of the SunRiver retirement community, about five miles east of the proposed mine site, are spearheading the fight against the project.
Washington County commissioners have pushed back a decision on the project at least until after their scheduled Aug. 7 meeting, saying they want more time to wade through the details. The county planning commission unanimously endorsed the proposed mine earlier this month.
Darcy Stewart, managing partner of the SunRiver development, said it doesn’t make sense to harm the area’s quality of life for a handful of mining jobs.
She said the economic impact of retirees is underestimated, and the 55-and-older community is projected to bring $1.3 billion to the local economy by 2017.
"The county commissioners need to decide — are they going to create mining jobs or are they going to create jobs that work with retired people," Stewart said. "It’s going to be difficult in the future to grow both of those things together. Is this going to be a mining town? Because if so, I’d argue that doesn’t fit with what why people are coming here."
Representatives of Good Earth Minerals told The Spectrum of St. George that their project would pose no environmental danger but bring much-needed tax revenue and good-paying jobs to the community.
"All this talk of it’s going to become a mining town is just ridiculous," Fred Johnson, a consultant for the company, told The Spectrum.
The project involves a small mine out of town where a perfectly safe material would be extracted, Johnson said, adding the site would be rehabilitated once the mining is done and in a few years "everyone will have forgotten it’s even there."
The company is planning steps to ease residents’ concerns about the project’s impact on dust, traffic and noise, he said.
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