County OKs Vulcan rezoning

Published 9:34 am Thursday, October 24, 2019

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County commissioners voted 3-2 last month to rezone some 58.1 acres from residential/agricultural to industrial with special conditions.

Vulcan Materials requested the change to expand the current quarry on Farmington Road.

After hearing from attorneys for Vulcan and for neighboring property owners who opposed the rezoning, Commissioners James Blakley, Richard Poindexter and Terry Renegar voted to approve the rezoning, with Commissioners Mark Jones and Benita Finney voting against it.

The commissioners agreed on increasing conditions on the rezoning – doubling the distance from any excavations from 50 to 100 feet from any adjacent property line and from 100 to 200 feet from any public street.

The proposal must now be heard by the county’s board of adjustment, a quasi-judicial body that hears evidence and makes a decision based on that evidence, much as a jury does.

Attorney Hank VanHoy spoke for Vulcan.

“This is a straight-forward proposition,” VanHoy said. “You have a 52-year history of a quarry at this location. You know that it is safe. You know that it does not cause harm. They do not cause damage.”

He said blasts at the quarry are limited to 13 or 14 a year, and the intensity is less than slamming a door.

The intensity of use on the site will not change, he said, but would allow the company to mine there longer. He estimated some 68 trucks visit the site daily to get a necessary product. The company has $6 million in annual sales and pays $32,000 a year in property taxes.

Other uses of the property could cause more problems than a quarry, he said, adding that evidence does not show that adjoining property values are negatively affected.

Attorneys Chad Bomar and Brandi Koontz represented Mike and Sara Deal and other neighboring property owners.

“It is going to decrease property values,” Bomar said. Koontz pointed out that the county’s own tax cards for neighbors of the current quarry offer a discount for “quarry depreciation.”

“There has been a negative impact assigned by the tax office,” Koontz said, adding that it should be enough in itself to stop the rezoning.

She mentioned an ashpalt plant operating on the current site that already produces noxious smells.

“This operation is considered ultra-hazardous,” she said.

Neighbors also voiced their opposition, especially with the development of two schools – including the new Davie High School which would be across Farmington Road from the proposed site.

Beth McCashin said the board should consider the changes along the road that have occurred in the past 50 years since the quarry opened. The speed limit has not been adjusted on Farmington Road other than in front of the high school, and dump trucks travel too fast, she said.

“It’s amazing a young person has not been killed,” she said. “Big trucks and inexperienced drivers do not mix. If this is approved, that needs to be addressed – immediately.”

Don Vernon said dump trucks regularly speed on Farmington Road, and the intersection at Pudding Ridge Road has been the site of many near accidents with dump trucks slamming on brakes to avoid hitting other vehicles. Farm vehicles also regulary travel the road, he said.

Brian Boger told commissioners to remember what Farmington Road looked like when the quarry was originally approved more than 50 years ago. There was no school on the road, and far fewer homes, making traffic much lighter. “Is this expansion going to benefit the community?”

“It’s a bad idea. It’s not in the public’s interest,” Bomar said.

“They run a beautiful place up there,” Commissioner Poindexter said. “The pluses for the county far outweigh the minuses.” He said the rezoning would promote public health, safety and welfare and is in the public’s best interest. “Any time a charity goes to Vulcan for help, they receive it.”

Commissioner Jones said it is difficult to decide what’s in the public’s best interest. He doesn’t oppose Vulcan, but the land for the expansion has been on the market for years with no buyers. “I have a little difficulty in supporting the rezoning for a multitude of reasons.”

Commissioner Finney agreed that Vulcan has been a good corporate citizen. “But this future excavation area is very concerning because it is in close proximity to the school.”