Residents, Business Owners Speak Against Potential Gravel Mine

Jan 22, 2019

Veronnaka Evenson with aquaponics operation Swanky Roots speaks before the County Zoning Commission
Credit Kayla Desroches / YPR

A potential gravel mine on a plot of land in west Billings has nearby residents and business owners concerned.

A construction company, FirstMark, is seeking permission to include a section of property zoned as agricultural in its plans for a gravel mine. The agricultural-zoned land makes up almost 40 acres of the roughly 117-acre property near Oscar’s Park and Yellowstone River.

Residents and business owners in the region are concerned about consequences of running a mine in the area.

At a County Zoning Commission meeting last week, some members of the public mentioned safety concerns about industrial vehicle traffic and noise disturbance.  

Veronnaka Evenson with aquaponics operation Swanky Roots said she’s worried the activity could hurt their greenhouse system, which runs using water and fish.

“We just want to make sure that our water quality isn’t going to be affected, that the vibrations aren’t going to scare the fish,” said Evenson. “They get really scared really easily, and they react to things. They’re not necessarily super hardy.”

According to the meeting packet, county zoning regulations permit gravel extraction in agricultural zone districts upon special review approval. Part of the application includes meeting certain criteria to avoid negative effects.

The County Zoning Commission recommended approving the application at the meeting. The board’s recommendation goes next to the Board of Yellowstone County Commissioners, which will accept public comment at its meeting on January 29.