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Neighbors blast request to expand Pinesburg Quarry

November 27, 2007|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - Bottom Road resident Billy Payne on Monday told Washington County officials that it feels like his house is crashing down when workers blast at the Pinesburg Quarry.

And it could get worse, he said during a public hearing before the Washington County Commissioners and Washington County Planning Commission, if Martin Marietta Materials Inc. is given permission to expand its interests to mine 77 acres of land that borders the quarry to the north.

Paxton Badham of Martin Marietta told county officials and about 60 people in attendance that rezoning the land north of the quarry would not increase mining intensity in that area.

There would not be more blasting, dust or truck traffic unless the market demand increased, he said.

The existing quarry has about 20 years of life remaining, Badham said. The additional 77 acres would prolong mining there for 80 more years.

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"We have to go where the rock is," he said.

Martin Marietta has invested millions of dollars in the quarry and employs 19 people there, excluding truck drivers who are privately contracted, he said.

But Payne and more than a dozen other people, mostly residents living near the quarry, said their homes are rocked and sometimes their wells are ruined when the quarry blasts. Some of the people said rezoning the land to expand mining could decrease their property values.

"When they blast, my house shakes ... I've got cracks in almost every closet," said Grace Myers, who lives across the street from the proposed expansion site.

Myers suggested that the planning commission and county commissioners visit her property to see what she is experiencing before they vote.

Patricia Olchak, a Clear Spring Road resident, said she doubted whether the quarry follows blasting regulations.

"(My house) has a double foundation because of the quarry," she said.

Washington County Planning Director Mike Thompson said before a decision is made to rezone the land, the issue has to go before the county planning commission for a recommendation. That recommendation will be passed on to the Washington County Commissioners, who will have the final say, he said.

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