No Rezoning Required for Proposed Quarry

WINNSBORO – Contrary to what was understood by Rockton Thruway residents speaking to County Council at last week’s regular meeting, property along the Thruway will not require any rezoning ordinance in order to accommodate a proposed granite quarry.

The Voice learned just hours after going to press with the May 16 edition that the majority of the property is zoned RD-1 – Rural Residential District, which allows for conditional mining, according to the County’s ordinances. A small portion of the property – a little more than 7 acres – is zoned B-2, or General Business District, which also allows for conditional mining.

The conditions outlined in the County’s ordinances comprise a list of three stipulations, the first being that a reclamation and reuse plan for the property after mining has ceased accompany the County’s permit application. The County also requires that blasting activities are restricted to a minimum distance of 1,500 feet from any structure not owned by the mining company. Finally, the County requires a location map and assurances that access will be restricted to a major street or road, and not allowed on minor streets.

David Ferguson, Chairman of County Council, said County staff is currently working to update and strengthen its land use ordinances.

“DHEC has the final say-so on everything but the zoning,” Ferguson said, but added that rezoning the property to retroactively prohibit mining could not be done without the County facing a long and expensive train of legal challenges.

Winnsboro Crushed Stone, LLC submitted its application for a mine operating permit to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) on March 13 (http://www.scdhec.gov/PublicNotices/Land/) for approximately 923 acres off Rockton Thruway. While the DHEC website still lists the end date of the application as June 2. A DHEC spokesperson said Tuesday that a public hearing has been requested and will be held no later than the end of July.

The application states that 184.6 acres will be affected by mining and bonded; 185.6 acres will be affected by mining with bonding deferred; 147.4 acres for future reserves or future impact; and 405.6 acres for undisturbed buffer.

Members of the Rockton community met at the Brandenburg family home last week to express their concerns over the location of the mining operation, which will manufacture gravel at the site. Provided the company passes muster with DHEC, as many as 100 trucks a day could be hauling gravel in and out of the quarry within the next year. A railroad spur will also be necessary, as the company has plans to transport much of the stone by rail. Questions to a spokesperson for Winnsboro Crushed Stone regarding how these details would affect the community were not answered at press time.

Blasting at the proposed mine was also a major concern with Rockton residents, and a DHEC spokesperson said the company’s mining application contained “no specifics on frequency of blasting at the quarry or materials used” in blasting operations.

“However, consistent with other similar operations around the state, blasting typically occurs two to four times a month,” the spokesperson said. “The facility will be required to use qualified individuals to conduct the blasting work. Most quarries hire a contractor to come in and do the blasting work as needed. The contractor brings the necessary explosive materials with them for each blasting event. Large quantities of explosives are not stored at the site. Blasting is typically not allowed within 1,000 feet of a residence and the maximum allowable ground vibration is limited by regulation.”

Cyanide will not be used at the proposed quarry, the DHEC spokesperson added.

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