Quarry Foes Prep Council for Meeting

DHEC Public Hearing Nov. 20

WINNSBORO – Opponents of and citizens likely to be affected by a proposed rock quarry planned for 185 acres on a 923-acre tract of land off Rockton Thruway in Winnsboro will get another chance next week to air their concerns to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) as the state agency’s Division of Mining and Solid Waste Management will meet with the public on Nov. 20.

The meeting will be held in the Fairfield Central High School auditorium, with a question-and-answer session slated to begin at 6 p.m., followed by the formal hearing at 7:30.

Leading up to next week’s meeting, residents of the Rockton Thruway community presented some of their concerns to County Council Monday night during the second public comment portion of Council’s regularly scheduled meeting.

While Council has, since news of the proposed mine became public last spring, made it clear that approval of the Winnsboro Crushed Stone, LLC operation was in the hands of the state and beyond the reach of the County, one resident Monday night suggested there may yet be action that the County could take. Lisa Brandenburg, who along with her daughter Dorothy has helped spearhead community resistance to the proposed quarry, told Council that according to documents available on DHEC’s website, the S.C. Mining Act does not supersede local land ordinances.

“Consequently, mining operations will need to conform to local zoning or land use conditions,” Brandenburg said. “We request that County Council send a letter to DHEC stating that County land ordinances are being violated by Winnsboro Crushed Stone, LLC and its application as submitted.”

Winnsboro Crushed Stone’s application includes additional impact areas and the company is seeking approval for both current operations and planned reserve operations. Brandenburg said the future impact areas should be removed from the application and should require a separate application process when and if the company decides to expand.

Brandenburg also said the County’s 1,500-foot blasting radius, as defined in the County’s land use ordinance, should be enforced. DHEC regulations, meanwhile, prohibit blasting within 1,000 feet of area homes. Representatives from Winnsboro Crushed Stone have said previously that the closest home to the proposed Winnsboro pit is 3,000 feet away. DHEC last summer estimated that distance at between 2,400 and 2,500 feet.

Access to the mine remains a sticking point as well, and Brandenburg told Council that, according to the County’s mining ordinance, access is to be restricted to major streets or roads. And, according to the County’s own definition, Rockton Thruway is a minor street.

Brandenburg also asked that public water access be brought to Rockton Thruway under the railroad prior to construction beginning on the quarry.

The public had an informal sit-down with DHEC back on June 26 at the County Administration Building. Brandenburg said Monday night that she asked DHEC then that the entrance and exit to the quarry to Highway 34 be clearly marked on the map and a list of the equipment and its location within the quarry be marked on a map.

“This information has not been provided in the application to DHEC,” Brandenburg reported to Council Monday.

Barbara Morris, another resident of the community, also voiced her opposition to the quarry Monday and asked for Council’s help.

“We do not need another sort of contamination in Fairfield County,” Morris said, and asked Council to consider the “expense of the increased insurance rates and lower property values, repairs to our homes, cars and hospital bills for long-term illnesses for now and future generations due to dust containing toxins in the air and water.”

William Rice, who also lives on Rockton Thruway, said the quarry and its truck traffic would have a negative impact on the day care center he operates out of his home. Rockton Thruway, a gravel road, is already dusty enough, he pointed out.

“When the rock quarry comes in, that’s not an investment,” Rice said. “The only people who are going to gain from this are people who have ties to the rock quarry. Would you want a rock quarry in your back yard? We do not want one.”

Milton Pope, Fairfield County Administrator, said Monday that anyone with specific questions that they feel need to be addressed by DHEC should forward those questions to his office. The Administrator’s office can be reached by calling 803-712-6501 or by e-mailing [email protected]

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