Jamestown residents voice concerns

  • Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Martin Marietta Materials officials Handsome Major and Paxton Badham address the Berkeley County Planning Commission. DAN BROWN/INDEPENDENT

Residents of Jamestown concerned with Martin Marietta Materials’ planned expansion efforts at the Jamestown quarry voiced their objections before the Berkeley County Planning Commission during the commission’s Tuesday, July 23 meeting.
Residents and environmental agencies and officials from Martin Marietta Materials addressed the commission for nearly two hours.
After the discussion, the commission unanimously recommended approval of the rezoning request. The resolution’s first reading before county council is scheduled for Aug. 12 during the Land Use Committee. 
Residents said that they wanted to see the company’s intentions and self-imposed restrictions specifically put down in writing so there is no misinterpretation as to the intended use of the land.
“We want to have it said what they can do with the land as much as what they can’t,” said the residents’ spokesperson Donna Shuler-Rodin.
Berkeley County Planning Director Eric Greenway agreed.
“Most of the time covenants and restrictions are written in the negative, stating what isn’t allowed,” said Greenway. “We as a staff would prefer the covenants to state specifically what they are allowed to do and everything else not mentioned would not be allowed.”
Officials from Martin Marietta Materials made their presentation before the commission, a presentation nearly identical to the one made to Jamestown residents at a community meeting held at the quarry on July 18.
Residents raised concerns regarding the quarry’s blasting practices once it moved to mining the new property.
“We have imposed our own restrictive covenants on this property,” Martin Marietta attorney Chris Louden said, reassuring residents that most uses of the heavy industrial zoning would not apply to the designated expansion area. “Blasting is very heavily regulated and very heavily monitored event. We defer to the experts when it comes to blasting.”
Residents were also worried about the increase in truck traffic leaving the quarry creating a traffic safety issue.
Louden said, “While the trucks belong to Martin Marietta’s customers we do have a concerned interest in seeing that trucks abide by all traffic rules and regulations, coming to a complete stop before exiting the quarry, and observing all speed limits. We have posted signs stating such and continued violators would be prohibited from entering the property.”
Since the community meeting, Martin Marietta indicated that police presence has increased in the area, but following sound safety practices behind the wheel is up to individual drivers.
“I think the most effective thing we could do is to have direct person-to-person, one-on-one conversations and discussions with the truck drivers to make sure they operate safely,” said Martin Marietta Vice President Paxton Badham.
While the rezoning request represents Martin Marietta’s long-range goals, Badham said mining on the expanded property would begin immediately, starting with the securing of a mining permit.
Badham said the new property would be mined in stages, “Mining on the approximately 60 acres known as the Casselman property won’t begin until 2030,” he said. “If we do nothing else at this quarry, we have approximately 10 years of limestone left to be mined.
“The question you have to ask is if you don’t want Martin Marietta mining this Berkeley County quarry, then who do you want?”
Planning Commission Chairman Kenneth Day cut the discussion off at two hours and put the proposal to vote.
“We have a pretty good handle as a planning commission on what you want to do,” he said. “Our duty here is to make a recommendation to county council. The community has three more opportunities to do due diligence to the issues here.”

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