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County approves zoning change for Mellott quarry

July 27, 2005|by TARA REILLY

MOUNT AETNA

tarar@herald-mail.com

Making good on their show of support last week for a zoning change that would allow a Mount Aetna-area quarry to expand, the Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday formally approved the request that has sparked organized opposition from residents of the area.

But the County Commissioners also put several conditions on the quarry, including restricting its hours of operation, and requiring the business to outline the effects mining has on the surrounding water supply and to meet annually with concerned residents.

In addition, mining cannot take place less than 400 feet from Mount Aetna Road and no less than 100 feet from residences. Blasting also isn't permitted less than 500 feet from the nearest residential structure, according to a written statement from the county.

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H.B. Mellott Estate Inc. asked for a zoning change for 80.33 acres in an agricultural zone on the east side of Mapleville Road (Md. 66) and north of the intersection with Interstate 70 for its Beaver Creek Quarry.

The change would allow an industrial mineral floating zone to be placed over the agriculture zone, according to county documents. That would allow the company to increase the volume of mineral extraction.

Many residents of the Mount Aetna area and several expert witnesses have said a quarry expansion could have negative effects on surrounding property, including causing more sinkholes from blasting near already porous grounds, increasing traffic, and disrupting a peaceful and historic area.

Claudia Eklund, of Friends of Mount Aetna Creek, said the commissioners' decision indicates that the community, including county taxpayers, doesn't have the same rights as industry.

"Obviously the commissioners do not care," Eklund said by phone after the meeting.

The commissioners approved the application Tuesday by a 3-2 vote. Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook and commissioners John C. Munson and Doris J. Nipps supported the request.

Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell and Commissioner James F. Kercheval opposed it.

The commissioners announced at a meeting last week how they planned to vote.

The vote went against an earlier recommendation by the county's Planning Commission to deny the application. The Planning Commission ruled that the zoning change would be incompatible with surrounding residential properties.

Nipps on Tuesday read off a list of 19 reasons supporting Mellott's request, including that the request was consistent with the county's Comprehensive Plan.

She said she has lived next to another quarry for 29 years and knows from personal experience that a quarry and residential areas can co-exist.

Kercheval and Wivell last week said they didn't have enough evidence to rule against the Planning Commission's recommendation.

Like Nipps, Snook said last week that he supported the application because the zoning change is consistent with the county's Comprehensive Plan.

Mellott must still receive site plan approval from the Planning Commission to move forward with its expansion plans, Nipps said.




How they voted ...


The Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday approved a request from H.B. Mellott Estate Inc. for a zoning change that would allow for an expansion of the company's Beaver Creek Quarry. Here's how they voted:

Yes: Gregory I. Snook, Doris J. Nipps, John C. Munson

No: William J. Wivell, James F. Kercheval

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