Owners want bigger quarry, but neighbors dread impact

November 22, 2007|By JOSHUA BOWMAN


The owners of Pinesburg Quarry in Williamsport want to expand the 180-acre open-pit mine.

Martin Marietta Materials Inc. has asked Washington County to rezone about 77 acres near the intersection of Md. 68 and Bottom Road so the company can extract rock from the limestone-rich farm soil west of the existing quarry.

The company argues that expanding the quarry is necessary and would be less harmful to the environment than digging a new rock pit.

But some nearby residents said the expansion could increase damage to their houses, which they said have already suffered cracked foundations from rock blasting at the quarry.


"It would make my home worthless," said Grace Myers, who has lived in her house on Md. 68 for 24 years.

In its rezoning application, Martin Marietta said it needs to expand the quarry to continue mining rock in the area.

"Quarries are temporary businesses, all dependent on reserves for their existence," the application states.

But Myers, who lives across the street from the proposed expansion site, said blasts from the quarry already shake her windows, terrify her cats and once froze her garage door opener.

"Everybody always says, 'I don't want it in my backyard.' It's already in my yard. I don't want it in my living room," Myers said.

In September, Martin Marietta studied ground vibrations caused by blasting at the quarry. The study found vibrations at nearby residences to be below state limits, though the company did not test vibrations at houses along Md. 68.

Martin Marietta stated in the rezoning application that the "zone of influence," a radius around the quarry where the company can be held liable for damage to property, will not be changed if the quarry is expanded.

Myers' neighbor, Terry Neuschafer, said he has had his basement walls reinforced to combat the quarry's blasts, which he said occur about twice a week.

Neuschafer said he is worried that his well might collapse if the quarry starts blasting closer to his property. He said the company has already paid to repair a broken water line in his basement.

"I can't imagine if they come closer that it won't damage the wells around here," Neuschafer said.

The county will hold a public hearing on the rezoning request Monday at 7 p.m. in the Washington County Courthouse.

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