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MDE to hold hearing on quarry

January 23, 2001

MDE to hold hearing on quarry



By SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer


The Maryland Department of the Environment will sponsor a hearing Wednesday to give interested parties a look at a state proposal to make H.B. Mellott Beaver Creek quarry liable should water problems develop in the area.

The proposal would establish a "zone of dewatering influence" around the east and west pits of the quarry, said Ed Larrimore, program manager of the Department of the Environment mining program.

A state law enacted in 1991 provides for such zones to be established around surface mines in Washington, Frederick, Carroll and Baltimore counties because of the terrain in those areas.

A zone of dewatering influence would identify an area in which the quarry owner would be held liable should the quarry adversely affect wellwater supplies to adjacent properties. Such zones are established by the state.

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Those concerned about the potential effect of the Beaver Creek quarry on the water supply should attend a Wednesday public hearing, said Roger Worthington, president of Friends of Beaver Creek and Citizens For the Protection of Washington County.

Worthington said he is encouraging local residents to attend the meeting and ask questions but not to protest. Fliers have been sent to several hundred people, he said.

A hydrologist representing the citizens groups will be present at the hearing, he said.

The zone itself will have no impact on the water supply, water use or development by the quarry, Larrimore said.

Such a zone is akin to a "safety net," he said. If a property owner in this 650-acre zone develops a sinkhole or the water supply in wells drops significantly, the quarry would be presumed liable, he said.

As part of the work on the zone, the quarry was asked to develop a contingency plan for use in the event the water supply at the nearby Albert Powell Trout Hatchery were affected.

No such plan has been needed in the past and the state does not expect one will be needed, Larrimore said.

The state will take written comments for about 10 days. They may be sent to:

Ed Larrimore, Program manager of the MDE mining program, 2500 Broening Highway, Baltimore, MD 21224

The work was initiated by the state and was not prompted by a proposal by the quarry to expand, Larrimore said.

A June 29, 1999, Washington County Commissioners decision to rezone 79 acres that H.B. Mellott Estates Inc. needs to expand its Beaver Creek quarry was reversed in June 2000 by Washington County Circuit Judge John H. McDowell.

That reversal followed a July 1999 legal petition by Henry Heaton II, Worthington and Neil A. Wright, who live near the quarry and are members of the Friends of Beaver Creek.

The decision was separately appealed by the county and Mellott but they are working together, Washington County Attorney Richard Douglas said.

The issue is to be argued in early May, Douglas said.

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