Chester County quarry debate is done; neighbors celebrate end of ‘horrible nightmare’

Chester County SC quarry sparks debate from neighbors

A Chester County, South Carolina quarry has neighbors concerned it will be loud, shake the ground and pollute waterways. The quarry engineer says those concerns are unfounded.
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A Chester County, South Carolina quarry has neighbors concerned it will be loud, shake the ground and pollute waterways. The quarry engineer says those concerns are unfounded.

The Chester County rock quarry, controversial or necessary, depending on who was asked, isn’t happening.

“We put the quarry on hold,” said Jerry Meade, engineer with mining consultant Meade Gunnell.

HardRock Aggregates applied to mine on a nearly 240-acre site at 3337 Fishing Creek Church Road in Edgemoor.

The actual mining pit would have been eight acres, but it could have expanded to about 28 acres.

Neighbors had gathered to protest the mine. The would-be operators stated it will provide granite, clay, gravel and sand to build roads and other construction projects.

DHEC project manager Jeremy Eddy sent out a memo Thursday morning, stating HardRock asked on Nov. 5 to have its Fishing Creek permit application withdrawn. A public hearing won’t be required, and there isn’t any further action on the application.

In a separate move, the company applied for a general mining permit, limited to five acres of disturbed land at no more than 20 feet deep.

That permit wouldn’t allow material processing or blasting. Meade said that permit essentially would allow the company to sell dirt from the site, but not mine it.

The pulled permit comes as welcome news to some.

“It’s like the end of a very long, horrible nightmare,” said neighbor Joanna Angle.

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Angle, an organizer against the quarry plan, wasn’t shy with her feelings when she learned the application had been pulled.

“I’m spinning,” she said. “I can’t believe it happened. Merry Christmas.”

Neighbors brought on an environmental attorney and began requesting public records.

Along with environmental red tape from the endangered Carolina Heelsplitter in Fishing Creek and traffic concerns from having six tons of rock a day trucked out on a two-lane road over a gas pipeline, Angle said the mass of resident protest made the most difference.

“We have 700 people in our group right now,” she said, “and they know it.”

Angle said the news Thursday was a long time coming.

“It seems like forever,” she said. “It actually only started this last spring. And we were in it for the long haul. We were absolutely determined to stop this thing. What they were going to do was so egregious.”

Residents argued the quarry would shake the ground with explosions, jam up traffic, pollute Fishing Creek, potentially damage historic buildings with blasting or create air pollution.

Meade said concerns about mining often are overblown, and that mining occurs in all sorts of areas.

Mining produces an array of needed materials, he said. The mine could have produced ingredients for “a whole lot of asphalt” the state transportation department now will have to get elsewhere. And they will get it at greater expense if it comes from farther away, Meade said.

HardRock has a lease on the property. The initial mining plan involved a lease running through 2047. Any future quarry there would require a new application. Meade said it would take “a long time” and considerable work to figure out whether a quarry is feasible there.

The mining group could have spent $200,000 on environmental and legal work and still not gotten a permit, which is why they pulled the application.

“We got answers that we didn’t have before,” Meade said. “That was part of the process. We were going to have to spend a whole lot of money to prove this thing out. And we’re not really in a position to roll the dice.”

John Marks: jmarks@fortmilltimes.com; @JohnFMTimes
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