A controversial gravel pit won’t be built near Emigrant now that state regulators have tossed out the company’s application.

The Montana Department of Environmental Quality announced Tuesday that Riverside Contracting’s application for a gravel mine near Emigrant has been abandoned after the company failed to fulfill DEQ’s requests for more information. The application is now considered void, which pleases the group of nearby residents who fought against the pit last year.

Jana Gruber, an official in DEQ’s open cut mining division, said the abandonment came after the company missed deadlines lined out in state law for supplementing their application. If they still wanted to build a gravel pit on the land they staked out last year, they’d have to start from scratch.

Riverside Contracting did not respond to requests for comment.

Rob Story, the owner of the land Riverside wanted to mine, said the project was thwarted by a group of “self-righteous” landowners who didn’t want to see the pit or the trucks traveling in and out. He said he felt like he “got the short end of the stick” from the pit opponents.

The Missoula-based Riverside first proposed the pit in the spring of 2016. The proposal called for extracting 250,000 cubic yards of gravel from roughly 24 acres south of Emigrant. The proposal said the pit would operate for 20 years, after which the land would be reclaimed. The company also planned to have an asphalt plant there.

Local residents raised concerns about traffic problems, noise and potential impacts to nearby groundwater wells.

In September 2016, DEQ sent Riverside a formal deficiency notice, essentially asking the company to provide additional information about the impact of its plans. The agency asked for more detail on water quality impacts and for reports on the site’s archeological history and potential wildlife impacts.

The company had a year to respond to the request. After it missed that deadline, DEQ sent the company another letter notifying it that the application would be abandoned if it didn’t respond within 30 days. That 30 days has passed, and the application has been tossed.

The pit opponents, organized under the name Emigrant Neighbors, were thrilled by the news, said Jerry Ladewig.

“We’re very happy,” she said.

But she said they are worried another threat may arise. Story, who works in the movie business, plans to sell the land. He said he’s received several offers already.

Ladewig worries the next owner might target the property for industrial development.

“We’re fearful that we could be facing another industrial threat of some sort and have to do all this again,” she said.

Michael Wright can be reached at mwright@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2638. Follow him on Twitter @mj_wright1.

Michael Wright covers the environment and wildlife issues for the Chronicle.

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