Whatcom County’s two-step process for approving mines has frustrated one mining outfit but has withstood challenges in state courts.
The County Council in 2012 stopped Concrete Nor’West from expanding its gravel mine in the South Fork Valley by 280 acres at the first step in the review, not allowing the company to designate the land on Eddy’s Mountain for mining. The mineral resources designation by itself does not give permission to mine the land.
The council’s decision has since survived three appeals, most recently at a state Court of Appeals.
The court on Feb. 3 said the council was right to balance the need to have gravel available in the county with the need to protect the environment and neighbors’ quality of life.
“These (competing) goals and policies create the breathing space of judgment, not the chains of duty. They do not require the county to designate the parcel at issue as (mineral resource land),” Appeals Court judges said in their opinion.