Fairfield County passes 2nd approval for cement plant land sale

Resident Addresses Environmental Concerns

WINNSBORO – County Council is moving forward with a land sale that’s paving the way for an unidentified cement company that wants to do business in Fairfield County.

Monday night’s unanimous vote to approve the sale came in spite of criticisms over the lack of concrete details and the perception that cement makers generally don’t mix well with the community.

Council documents do not identify the company or specific parcel, nor do they list a proposed sale price, making it impossible to determine the land’s market value and how it compares to the sale price.

The lack of any meaningful details raises red flags about the sale, said Ridgeway resident Randy Bright.

“Whenever a concrete company is going to buy land in a county, the details matter,” Bright said. “Who is that concrete company? Have we done vetting with the concrete company? Most importantly, where is the concrete company going to be located?”

Council members did not publicly address Bright’s concerns.

Council documents are quick to point out that “Project Bedrock,” as the company has been code named, represents an $8 million investment and will create 17 full time jobs. Documents do not provide any details about the kind of jobs or wage information.

Bright said transparency is particularly important given potentially damaging environmental impacts often associated with cement mixing companies.

“Cement manufacturing is one of the highest air polluting industries in the United States, and in fact the world,” he said. “We need to know who the manufacturer is and where it’s going to be located, but that is not in the ordinance which is up for second reading for today. Please include that.”

The council must schedule a public hearing and third reading before the land sale ordinance takes effect.

Council Chairman Doug Pauley said no other meetings are scheduled this month, so third reading likely won’t occur until at least December.

In other business, the council unanimously approved the purchase of a new rescue truck for $220,000.

The truck is part of a package that also includes a ladder truck, which the county has already acquired. Fairfield had budgeted $250,000 for the purchase.

“It was a very good opportunity,” said Jamie Webb, director of Fairfield County Fire Service. “They were both well-maintained, local trucks with great maintenance records. It was a good deal for the fire service and the county.”

Council members also voted to remove a resolution from the agenda to transfer $1.5 million in unspent Dominion settlement money from a mass grading project at the megasite to cover cost overruns associated with a new spec building.

The vote was unanimous though council members didn’t offer an explanation for the removal.

According to the resolution, $2 million in Dominion funds had been reserved for the spec building, but the county says more money is needed to complete the project. The transfer of $1.5 million in unspent funds raises the spec building price tag to $3.5 million.

“The County has frugally spent other Dominion settlement funds and has completed grading projects at the Megasite and the Commerce Center under budget,” the resolution states.

Council members did not state when or if the resolution would come back for a formal vote.

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