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Rock quarry application dropped from zoning board of appeals table in York County

Hundreds of people said no to the rock quarry in their backyard.
Published: Jan. 11, 2022 at 8:02 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 12, 2022 at 4:16 PM EST
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YORK COUNTY, S.C. (WBTV) - A controversial rock quarry application has been dropped from the zoning board of appeals table in York County, according to officials.

The planning director and York County’s Public Information Officer said the application has been dropped and there’s been no discussion on if it would be picked up again.

Later Wednesday afternoon, WBTV received more clarity about why the application had been dropped.

President Jack Mitchell, the project operator of the Langum Branch Creek Quarry, says many people on the staff either tested positive for COVID-19 or were close contacts to people who did test positive so they decided to quarantine instead of going to the zoning board meeting.

This gives the project planners time to reflect on disparaging comments from neighbors and government officials. The organizers hope to go back to the drawing board with these concerns in mind.

Not in our backyard. That is what some neighbors in York County were saying about the proposed rock quarry. And they were hoping the York County Board of Zone Appeals would say the same.

Hundreds of people said no to the rock quarry in their backyard. The massive 370-acre quarry would be an expansion of a much smaller surface mining operation already there.

Neighbors near Fishing Creek at McFarland Road hoped to convince the York County Board of Zoning Appeals to not rezone the land. Almost 2,000 people signed a petition trying to stop this from happening.

The Langum Branch Creek Quarry would take a 30-acre surface mining operation already there and develop into a 370-acre operation over time. The project operator, President Jack Mitchell, was asking for a special exception rezoning from Agricultural Conservation District. If granted the rezoning and all other approvals, this mine would have been operating until 2094. If this were to ever get approved, the operator wanted to get mining started as early as June 1, according to planning documents.

People who live around this land don’t want this approval to go through citing noise, pollution, property values and other personal and environmental effects. They hoped to convince the zoning board to say no to this rezone.

This would be the third quarry in the York County area if it was ever approved by all the necessary parties. But, people living in the homes surrounding the land say three’s a crowd and they do not want this quarry. Laddie Parrish and his wife Wanda are just some of these people.

They live in their dream retirement home and area. Peaceful and quiet just how they wanted it.

”This is where we’ll spend our golden years we’re not planning on moving,” says Parrish.

The reason they would move could be coming right down the street. This land could be turned into a massive rock quarry in what they feel is basically their backyard. Their house is about 1,000 feet away from the land where the quarry sits.

”We just don’t want the nuisance. The nuisance of the sounds and the trucks running up and down the road. You’re hearing blasting and how will that affect us and the house,” says Parrish.

Their main problems are personal and environmental traffic and damage to already rough roads, pollution, property home values and more.

The traffic and roads aspects are about the trucks coming down the residential roads. Parrish says the roads, like Gordon Road, are already in bad shape. So, he feels the large trucks, supposedly carrying 500,000-800,000 tons.

Another concern was the property values. People do not want their home values to go down because of the mine proximity and blasting noise.

The pollution goes to the water and air. They are very nervous about the dust going into the air from the explosions and other processes that come with operating a rock quarry. They are also very concerned about water pollution as well. Many people in the area have wells and get their water that way. It means if the groundwater gets contaminated, the well will get contaminated as well.

This is the main concern for Carolyn Adkins. For her, the quarry will affect where she lives and works.

”It’s making me feel very anxious,” says Adkins.

Adkins worries about her cows on the Tucker Adkins Dairy Farm. Since it is raw milk she is state inspected monthly having to be in tip-top shape to stay open. She says the quarry could contaminant her water which could mean major problems for her.

”I’ll have to shut down. Or the state will shut me down because my water is contaminated. This is my livelihood. They’re dealing with my livelihood,” she says.

Langham Branch Creek President Jack Mitchell, who is trying to bring the quarry, says he understands the concerns and is trying to mitigate them.

”We understand there are concerns and you know they’re real. If we can try to address those concerns and make our presence that much easier on folks then that’s what we’re trying to achieve,” says Mitchell.

Langham Branch has a website dedicated to addressing these concerns. The sections are broken down into accountability, community, and health and safety. Accountability is the largest section speaking about the main concerns of concerns addressed above. Blasting would have only happened Monday-Friday as well as a notification when the blasting will take place.

Part of the concern was how the blasting would affect the structures of the houses. The website says the quarry company was willing to give a pre-blast inspection to the homes.

It says “Langham Branch Creek Quarry will offer such property owners a Structural Guarantee that quarry operations will not cause damage to the structures on their property. There is also a property value guarantee as well that property values will not go down for any homeowner with 3,750 feet. The same guarantee will be used for wells where an inspection will take place and then a Water Well Guarantee will guarantee the wells will not be disrupted with 3,750 feet.”

Mitchell says they have experience and strong neighborly policies on their side to help the transition. He says the company planned to be a good steward of the environment reducing dust pollution significantly to not disturb the people around them.

”I think we’re doing many things to make sure we are a good neighbor,” says Mitchell.

Mitchell says there is already a mining operation in the area. It is just adding to the mining facility. This is, as mentioned, the third quarry in the York County area. This area was chosen, according to him, because of the proximity to the other two quarries. He says this will reduce traffic around the area, even though there will be more traffic around the quarry.

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