The York County Council voted Monday night to deny a rezoning as part of a proposed mine in the Bowling Green area north of Clover after more than 200 residents packed council chambers and two additional rooms in the Agricultural Building in opposition.
The request sought to rezone a 43-acre residential parcel on Ridge Road into an agricultural region – opening up the potential for a quarry.
Martin Marietta Materials of North Carolina, a leading U.S. construction materials producer, confirmed last month that it was looking to develop a granite-rich area north of Clover near U.S. 321 and S.C. 557 into a mine.
Paxton Badham, vice president of environmental services and natural resources at Martin Marietta, called the council’s decision “disappointing,” but also said the company will “go back and reassess” plans for the 200-acre quarry in light of local sentiments.
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“They’re politicians – that’s part of the game,” he said, asserting that the rezoning would have been consistent with the area, which is surrounded by agricultural land. “This is a mistake.”
“I’m trying to practice what I preach,” said Councilman Bruce Henderson, who led the motion to deny the request, rejecting the rezoning entirely.
In previous requests that have drawn heavy opposition, the council has proceeded with subsequent readings, citing “property rights” of developers, as well as residents.
“You have to look at the big picture,” said Henderson, who has fielded several calls and messages from concerned residents in the last several weeks. The council typically votes as a block in zoning matters – deferring to the councilman of the district.
The council’s decision was applauded by several residents who cited environmental and quality of life issues related to the proposed mine – though the parcel was just one of several the company has reportedly looked at for acquisition.
The company can still seek special permission to operate a mine on land already zoned for agricultural use. That decision would come before the Zoning Board of Appeals – a separate county entity. The company also must obtain a mining permit from the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.
Tim Kirksey, 70, a retiree, has been one of several leading the charge against the quarry. He and his wife distributed hundreds of fliers notifying residents of the site and organized neighborhood meetings in preparation for Monday’s public hearing.
“We don’t feel it’s a proper place,” Kirksey said. He cited concerns with local wells that have suffered from weak water pressure. The majority of nearby residents do not have access to municipal water.
Decreased property values also were cited as a top issue. “They’re going to drop like a rock,” he said.
For Robert Dulin, 66, the issue is a matter of quality of life. “I was out in my yard this morning and all I could hear is birds,” Dulin said. With a quarry, that would change, he said.
“They have picked the wrong place,” said Dulin, adding that he and others intend to “fight them every step of the way” and that executives should “reconsider” their plans.
Dulin, a former Duke Energy employee, said he has been on the other side of the issue when it comes to those opposing nuclear energy, but that this issue doesn’t provide value for the community, unlike a power station.