PROVO -- The dust, noise and heavy truck traffic associated with gravel pits have recently stirred up the emotions of many Utah County residents.

But officials hope a proposed new chapter in the county's zoning ordinance will smooth out the rocky relationship between residents and gravel pit operators.County planners say the new zoning rules should address the concerns of residents while protecting the business rights of the gravel pit owners. Gravel operations are in high gear these days because of a thriving construction market.

"The Planning Commission is not in the mood to close down these businesses," said Buck Rose, the county's assistant director of community development.

The new section, undergoing final revision by the Utah County Planning Commission, would require that all such operators file a detailed plan of the proposed project, share a map of truck routes and post a fairly hefty bond against damage and reparation costs.

Rose said the new chapter should give some guidelines to work from where there hasn't been a specific gravel pit ordinance in the past.

"There have been some portions of this in our ordinances, but this is mostly all new," Rose said.

At the same time, revisions are being made to existing chapters in the ordinance that would strictly limit the activities of any batch plants, mines, waste dumps or pits that exist inside a three-mile buffer zone from the nearest home or dust-sensitive business.

"The plants or pits that are closer than that will have different concerns," he said.

Rose said he's already heard from one gravel pit owner who thinks the new language is too restrictive and even threatening to the gravel industry in Utah County.

The Utah County Planning Commission has worked on the new chapter and changes for the past two years in conjunction with the writing of an updated general plan for Utah County.

The new chapter and amendments will be the focus of a work session scheduled for Wednesday in the County Administration Building, 100 E. Center, in Room 1500, and the new document will then be on the formal agenda for Feb. 16, if it's approved.

After that, it will come before the Utah County Commission, said Jeff Mendenhall, county planning director.

Currently, there are more than 30 active gravel pits in Utah County. There are 42 with bonds registered with the county.

Resident groups such as Stop Asphalt From Entering Committee in Highland are working diligently and vocally to block any new gravel pits in the county, especially in the critical environment zones.

Emotions have often run high at many of the public meetings about gravel pits.

Lone Peak High School PTSA President Laurie Anderson, recently speaking to the Cedar Hills City Council, said her group opposes gravel pit operations because the truck traffic endangers the young and the pollution is unwanted.

Students from Lone Peak were given extra credit if they attended any of the recent hearings. Alpine School District Superintendent Steven Baugh said there was never any effort made from the school administration to encourage the students to support one side over another.

"It was very much like urging students to be involved in the political process by attending a debate. They would then be encouraged to do the research and become educated in something with practical application," Baugh said.