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Livingston Parish gravel pit regulations tighten

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WATSON- After two long years of going over regulations for gravel pits, the Livingston Parish Council is expected to move forward with its latest set of rules Thursday.

The proposed gravel pit next to the Oak Hills subdivision in Watson has caused a stir among residents. The issue first came to light in 2014 when Southern Aggregates, a gravel mining company, announced plans to dig a pit behind the subdivision off Highway 16.

The announcement sparked outrage from residents who argued the gravel pit would have a negative impact on their health and property values.

"I guess what it boils down to now, the fight is to make sure they put up boundaries," said resident Judy Hergruder. "I mean this is a peaceful, quiet community. It's not going to be like that. All during the day I work from home. I'm going to hear the machinery running during the day even if they don't do it at night."

Livingston Parish councilman Shane Mack says he and other council members have made several trips to gravel pit sites in the area and the Oak Hills subdivision. Mack says he feels the new rules are ready to go after 8 weeks of working on regulations.

"I really feel like if they give it a chance, the people in that area give it a chance, the impact is minimized and that they're going to be able to live happy up there in that area," he said.

Mack says the council worked to reword and strengthen several aspects of the gravel pit ordinance.

The new rules require at least an 8 foot tall earthen berm boundary which will also require vegetation to cut down on noise and dust. New regulations will also require that the gravel pit boundary be at least 200 feet from homes. The hours of operation were also tweaked to allow trucks to load up beginning at 2:30 a.m. to get the trucks moving before peak traffic times when school buses are on the roads.    

The council will vote Thursday to move the ordinance to a public hearing. The regulations can still be tweaked before becoming final.


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