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Commissioners to consider quarry zoning request

June 14, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- A controversial zoning request that would allow Martin Marietta Materials to mine an additional 77 acres at the Pinesburg Quarry northwest of Williamsport is scheduled to go before the Washington County Commissioners Tuesday.

For the past two years, the request has been the subject of protests from neighbors, who turned out at two public hearings to raise concerns about potential impacts on water resources, property values and their quality of life.

Assistant County Attorney Kirk C. Downey has said the commissioners would issue a written decision on the request.

The zoning request would rezone the 77 acres on the south side of Md. 68, about 800 feet west of its intersection with Bottom Road, from Agricultural (Rural) to Agricultural (Rural) with an Industrial, Mineral Overlay.

In January 2008, the Washington County Planning Commission voted 4-1 to recommend approval of the rezoning application, with conditions related to access, blasting, well protection and historical structures, according to meeting minutes. Planning commission members also stipulated that dairy farms around the quarry should be officially recognized as being in its "zone of influence" and that Martin Marietta should work with the farmers to develop an emergency preparedness plan, which would specify what would happen if a farmer's well fails.

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When the request was taken before the County Commissioners in April 2008 for their approval, Commissioner Kristen B. Aleshire said he did not support it, and Commissioners William J. Wivell and Terry Baker said they were not ready to vote on the matter, according to meeting minutes.

In April of this year, the county held a second public hearing on the matter. There, residents repeated their concerns that the new mining area would devalue their homes and presented the commissioners with a petition from about 116 people opposed to the project.

Officials from Martin Marietta Materials said at that hearing that the company has never had to pay out for blasting damage claims and that the quarry's lack of impact on area water resources has been clearly demonstrated.

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