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Quarry expansion opponents pack hearing

November 16, 2004|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Residents opposed to a local company's plans to increase its mining operations jammed a courtroom at the Washington County Courthouse for a public hearing Monday night, but only a handful spoke out against the proposal.

Many of the residents said they decided instead to put off their comments until another public hearing is held in a few weeks, so they could gather more information about H.B. Mellott Estate Inc.'s quarry plans.

H.B. Mellott Estate has applied to Washington County for a zoning amendment that would allow the company to increase how much it mines.

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The property in question is on 80.33 acres in an agriculture zone, on the east side of Mapleville Road (Md. 66) and north of the Interstate 70 intersection.

H.B. Mellott Estate has requested that an industrial mineral floating zone be placed over the agriculture zone.

Terry Randall, vice chairman of H.B. Mellott Estate, said at Monday night's public hearing that the proposed rezoning would allow the company to increase the volume of mineral extraction.

"We're trying to make plans for the future so that our company can last for a longer time," Randall said.

Concerned residents filled the seats of Courtroom 1 for the hearing before the Washington County Commissioners and the Washington County Planning Commission.

Some residents sat in the jury box and others stood along the back and sides of the room. None testified in favor of H.B. Mellott's rezoning request. About nine people spoke out against it.

Sheri Tydings, vice principal of Highland View Academy, said one of the college preparatory school's marketing tools is its rural setting.

H.B. Mellott's plans might have a negative impact on the school, she said.

Highland View Academy is near the Mellott quarry.

Mount Aetna Adventist Elementary School Principal Robert Mulkern testified that the school community is concerned about increased traffic on Mount Aetna Road, should H.B. Mellott one day decide to route traffic onto that road.

"It's a matter of safety," Mulkern said. "And it's a matter that we would be very concerned about."

John Urner, the lawyer representing H.B. Mellott, said at the hearing that traffic would not increase on Mount Aetna Road, because the company isn't planning an access point to the quarry from that road.

He said the county can make that a condition of approval if it chooses.

County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said the commissioners probably would discuss a date for the second hearing today, and that it would be held in the next two to three weeks.

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