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SAN DIEGO — For the second time in two weeks, dozens of concerned residents spoke out against a proposed sand mine on an East County golf course Tuesday, and a local planning group deemed the plans flawed.

The Cottonwood Sand Mine in Rancho San Diego was up for discussion again at a virtual meeting hosted by the Valle de Oro Community Planning Group. The project is currently in phase three of five, on its way to being approved or denied by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.

The virtual meeting allowed the community to hear from those closely involved in the project, who presented a draft environmental impact report. Local residents were then also able to make public comment and continue to submit their feedback to the county.

The sand mine has been met with significant opposition from neighbors, who have formed the group “Stop Cottonwood Sand Mine.”

“The location proposed is both highly inappropriate and inconsistent with the general community plans. Industrial open pit sand mines do not exist in developed residential areas surrounded by homes, schools, businesses, parks and more,” Barry Jantz, a retired health care district CEO who helps lead the Stop Cottonwood group, said during the meeting.

Project applicants attempted to ease concerns by presenting their environmental impact report.

“Prior to initiating mining in each sub-phase, the area will be cleared, top soil stockpiled and noise barriers installed,” said Vanessa Toscano, senior environmental project manager with Helix Environmental Planning.  

Toscano added that no more than 30 acres, or about 11% of the 280 acres on the project site, would be in active mining at any given time. The report also proposes mitigation measures for dust, traffic and neighborhood aesthetic concerns.

Environmental concerns are top of mind for some community members near the Cottonwood Golf Club site, including feared harm to air and water quality, as well as wildlife.

“This project is so outrageous. If it’s denied what’s the next step? I cannot imagine the County Board of Supervisors approving this,” said another speaker, Robert Stall.

The proposed sand mining operation would take place over 10 years with an additional two years of clean up and take place on 214 of 280 acres on Cottonwood Golf Course.

The Valle de Oro Community Planning Group subcommittee ultimately decided the draft environmental impact report was flawed and needed to be revised. The group will send its recommendation to the county.

Up next, the project is expected to take any feedback and revise its environmental impact report before presenting their proposal once again to the planning group.