Proposal to Open Quarry Sets Community on Edge

The location of the proposed Winnsboro Crushed Stone Quarry.

WINNSBORO – A proposal to mine granite from a portion of a more than 900-acre tract near the Rockton Thruway and process the stone into gravel has local residents up in arms. While the permit, submitted by Winnsboro Crushed Stone, LLC, is still pending before the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), residents of the surrounding area came before County Council Monday night to express their opposition to the quarry and ask Council to do the one thing it can do to kill the project.

“The proposed quarry is in an area zoned as residential,” Dorothy L. Brandenburg, a Rockton Thruway resident said, “and the residents who live in the surrounding areas wish for that property to not be rezoned.”

Winnsboro Crushed Stone, whose home office is listed as Monroe, N.C., according to documents available on DHEC’s website, submitted their application on March 13, but inspection of the land began more than a year ago. Archeologists with Brockington and Associates, Inc. of Charleston visited the site between April 15 and April 19 of 2013 at the request of Kennedy Consulting Services, LLC of Lexington, a group working for the Boggs Group, Inc., also of Monroe, N.C. According to their report, also available on DHEC’s website (www.dhec.sc.gov/environment/lwm/publicNotice.htm), the purpose of their visit was to help the Boggs Group obtain necessary permits to open and operate a granite quarry within a 569-acre tract.

While the survey team stated that 10 archeological sites and six isolated finds were located on the property, the sites and finds were “small, low density prehistoric lithic or historic artifact scatters,” and were ineligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

Between March 22 and April 16, 2013, Palmetto Environmental Consulting, Inc., of Lexington, visited the site to conduct an assessment of federally listed threatened and endangered species, as well as state listed rare, threatened and endangered species. Their report concluded that a “potential habitat for 10 of the 17” state and federal protected species known to occur in Fairfield County “appears to be located on the site,” none of the listed species “were readily observed” during their field investigations.

But endangered species, as well as the method by which granite would be extracted from the site, were among the concerns expressed by Brandenburg’s mother, Lisa, during the first public comment portion of Monday’s meeting.

“We have endangered species on our properties,” Lisa Brandenburg said. “The use of dynamite, the railroad spur that will be put in, the extra traffic on 34 is going to make it hazardous and a death trap for anybody trying to drive in and out on 34.”

The mining application of Winnsboro Crushed Stone indeed notes the use of “blasting” as part of the mining process, but states that “all structures near the Winnsboro Quarry site that are not owned by Winnsboro Crushed Stone are located beyond ½ mile from the nearest point of blasting.”

Interim County Administrator Milton Pope said that the County was not notified of the mining proposal until May 7, and since then, “there have been absolutely no other communications with the County about this mining application.”

Chairman David Ferguson (District 5) instructed Pope to send a letter to DHEC requesting a public hearing on the mining proposal. The application expires on June 2.

The property in question is located approximately 4 miles southeast of Winnsboro, 2.2 miles from the intersection of Highway 321 and Highway 34 and is accessible by the Rockton Thruway. The property owners are listed in the application documents as: Coleman Land & Timber, LLC (Hartsville, S.C. – 485.5 acres); Amos Davis Coleman, et. al. (Winnsboro – 349 acres); Jenkins & McLeod, LLC (Winnsboro – 35 acres); Quay W. McMaster (Winnsboro – one 43-acre tract and one 7-acre tract); and S.C. Electric & Gas (Columbia – 3.7 acres).

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.

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