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Opponents of Cottonwood Sand Mine speak against proposed 12-year project in Rancho San Diego

Opponents say 5.7 million tons of washed concrete sand would churn up silica dust and many fear the carcinogen could settle in.

EL CAJON, Calif. — Supporters of a sand mine that would run along the Sweetwater River in El Cajon said the local supply of sand could potentially help the environment while opponents say it would impact residential homes, traffic, noise, air quality and wildlife.

"This is a golf course at the Rancho San Diego area and it is proposed by the owners to be a 12-year sand mining project to take out the particular sand for road aggregate out of the riverbed," said Barry Jantz.

Board member of Stop Cottonwood Sand Mine, Jantz is pushing to address the many concerns. Approximately 214 acres of the 280-acre site would be mined at the site of the existing Cottonwood Golf Club. 

"This golf course and open space is in the middle of existing residential areas [with] homes, schools, senior centers," said Jantz.

Opponents say 5.7 million tons of washed concrete sand would churn up silica dust and many fear the carcinogen could settle in.

Another worry is mining in the Sweetwater River which could carry toxic runoff three miles downstream to the Sweetwater Reservoir in Spring Valley – a major source of drinking water.

Wednesday during a virtual meeting on the environmental impact report of the project many expressed they were concerned for their health. 

"Through the use of an open-pit mine to a depth of 30 feet and transport sand to various locations across the county with 188 semi-trucks while simultaneously putting respiratory carcinogens in the air. Do this during a global pandemic? The virus that attacks the respiratory system?" one opponent said.

The mine was proposed in 2018 by El Cajon resident Greg Brown who’s the owner of New West Investment Group and LA developer Michael Schlesinger who bought the land and Cottonwood Golf Course back in 2015. 

"I haven’t run into anyone who’s in support of this. Clearly he’s in support of this because there's millions of dollars to be made to get this kind of sand and sell it those who need it for construction," said Jantz. 

Jantz said ideally, the developer would not proceed. The environmental impact report that’s written he says is missing information and should either be rejected or rewritten.  

If you’d like to submit a written comment to the county, it is due by Feb. 28. Email Robert.Hingtgen@sdcounty.ca.gov or send in writing to:
Robert Hingtgen
County of San Diego
Planning & Development Services
5510 Overland Ave., Suite 310
San Diego, CA 92123

WATCH RELATED: Rancho San Diego residents teed off over sand mine project - Nov. 2019