Carolina Crushed Boulder and Stone, a company owned by L.C. Jones of Franklin who also runs Black Bear Paving and Black Bear Excavating, has filed an application with the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources to open a new crushed stone mine. The quarry is to be located on a 57-acre tract near the intersection of N.C. 281 and N.C. 107 on the way to Bear Lake, said Judy Wehner, assistant state mining specialist.
Rumors of the mining operation circulated in the community months ago; however, local residents and leaders thought that any plans to open a mine had been scrapped. But last week residents whose property adjoins the tract began receiving certified letters notifying them of Carolina Crushed Boulder and Stone’s intent to indeed open a quarry. Residents immediately called a community meeting and decided to rally against its opening.
“The community outpouring’s been unbelievable,” said Beverly Turrentine, a local resident helping to spread the word.
Residents have dubbed themselves “United Neighbors” and are calling for anyone and everyone who does not wish to see the facility open to come to a meeting to be held at 7 p.m. July 29 at the Tuckasegee Baptist Church.
“Danger, we are losing our mountains, together we can stop it,” Turrentine read from the group’s flyer. “Join a meeting of United Neighbors in Tuckasegee.”
The call to action may be unnecessary though, due to the county’s industrial development ordinance, said county planner Linda Cable.
“The plan for the rock quarry at the site that has been selected will not meet the requirements of the ordinance,” Cable said.
The ordinance, which county commissioners unanimously adopted in May 2002, requires a 1,320-linear-foot setback for all industries covered under the ordinance — asphalt plants, junkyards, heavy industry and mining operations. The setback is measured from the property line on which the industry is located — not just its building footprint — to the nearest point of a property line on which a commercial use, school, child care home, child care institution, day care center, church, hospital, nursing care home, or nursing care institution is located; or any property line of any publicly owned property excluding road rights-of-way; or from the closest exterior wall of a residential structure.
Carolina Boulder and Stone’s permit application indicates that of its 56.77 acres, only 3.44 would comprise the actual mine area. The operation would use a track hoe, loader and truck to distribute crushed stone. The permit application indicates no blasting would occur.
Cable said that her estimated measurements show that the operation’s property line is about 600 feet from the nearest house — less than half as far as the ordinance setback requires.
“I have taken the position that the site is not suitable for a quarry,” Cable said, explaining that a letter to that effect had been sent to the company’s engineer who submitted the application to the state.
Regardless of county ordinance, the state could still issue a permit to operate the mine, but that issuance would not overrule local law, Cable said. And the county’s ordinance does not allow for a variance, meaning that Carolina Crushed Boulder and Stone’s plan as written doesn’t look like it’s going to get anywhere.
“It appears that way to me,” Cable said.
Any person may file written comments with the Department of Natural Resources regarding the permit application; however, the deadline to do so is rapidly approaching. Comments must be filed within 30 days of the application’s filing or issuance of property owners’ notice. Wehner said, tentatively speaking, that 30-day period is up Aug. 4.
If the Department of Natural Resources determines there is significant public interest in the project, a public hearing will be held within 60 days of the end of the written comment filing period.