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Quarry rezoning hits opposition

September 20, 1999

R. Paxton Badham, Jr.By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer

photo: JOE CROCETTA / staff photographer




A rezoning request by a Boonsboro limestone quarry company was met by heated opposition from residents of the area during a joint meeting of the Washington County Commissioners and Planning Commission Monday.

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Operations at the Martin Marietta Materials Inc. Booonsboro quarry on 20301 Benevola Church Road has caused cracked foundations, polluted water, heavy truck traffic, blasting noises 24 hours a day and vibrations strong enough to knock people to the ground, according to testimony from about 15 people during the hearing.

Martin Marietta, based in Raleigh, N.C., wants an industrial mineral floating zone added to the existing agricultural designation for 186 acres around the quarry, said quarry attorney John Urner.

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The company is requesting the industrial mining overlay so it can use the land for office facilities, processing facilities, storage of materials and the building of berms, Urner said.

He said that the amount of traffic, blasting, production and noise will not increase if the zoning request is granted. The company plans to consolidate two pit areas and move its stockpile and an asphalt plant to the southern portion of the property, he said.

Some residents of the area appeared skeptical, saying that granting zoning request would open the door to expanded production.

Mary Graff told the commissioners she has lived on Benovola Church Road for 50 years. She said her health, environment and living conditions have grown worse in that time and blamed Martin Marietta.

Sediment from the quarry has affected her water quality and water pressure and she attributes health problems to the mining operations, she said.

She said blasts from the quarry are so strong at times that she has almost been thrown out of bed.

Boyd Church of Thomas Road said granting the rezoning would allow other commercial operations at the site if Martin Marietta should decide to sell it, he said.

Rezoning the property would "infringe on the rural agricultural aspect of the area," he said.

Additionally, the action would increase truck traffic which has been troublesome, Church said.

He said he has been harassed and cut off by trucks coming from the quarry. The vehicles also drop gravel from the quarry onto the road and at nearby creeks, he said.

"It's like driving on ball bearings," he said.

Church said the blasting also produces dust that pollutes the air.

"There will be no additional mining beyond what's permitted now," Urner said during a rebuttal period.

Expanding the area to be mined would require surface mining permits from the Maryland Department of Environment and approval of additional site plans. No such permits have been applied for, according to Planning Commission documents.

The company has been mining at the site since 1962. Urner said the company may have previously been operating in 19 acres of company property not zoned for mining but has since stopped.

"We've fallen on our sword for that one," he said.

Urner said most of the residents living near the quarry moved there after the company started operations and implied that they should have been aware of the related noise, traffic and blasting that accompanies a quarry operation.

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