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Study to be reviewed as part of quarry quandary

July 25, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

GERRARDSTOWN, W.Va. -- The Berkeley County Public Service Water District has hired a consultant to review a hydrological study that will be part of North Mountain Shale LLC's permit application to develop a controversial quarry in Gerrardstown.

Paul S. Fisher, executive director of the water district, said Friday the district's board had authorized GeoConcepts Engineering Inc. of Ashburn, Va., to review the study North Mountain Shale is expected to submit to the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

Fisher said the water district board voted to pay the consultant $4,000 for an independent assessment of the company's study of water movement, distribution and quality in the area of the proposed quarry.

North Mountain Shale purchased more than 400 acres south of W.Va. 51 and west of Dominion Road in southern Berkeley County, but previous documents filed with the DEP indicated the total proposed permit area was 246 acres.

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The proposed quarry site is about two miles from the water district's wells along Goldmiller Road and more than a half-mile from the district's wells in Glenwood Forest on the west side of North Mountain, Fisher said.

Fisher said the water district decided to have the professional review done in the interest of protecting the interests of its customers. The district has more than 19,000 customers.

Fisher said the water district was pushed to have its own hydrological study done, but decided to review North Mountain Shale's work instead.

North Mountain Shale, which was incorporated in January 2008, is affiliated with Continental Brick Co. just outside of Martinsburg, W.Va., according to West Virginia Secretary of State Betty Ireland's office.

The project application filed with the DEP has yet to be deemed technically complete, according to the agency's Web site.

The company's purchase included Oban Hall, a Federal-style home built in 1825 that once was part of a 220-acre farm and was nominated for the National Register of Historic Places.

The home is one of at least two properties the state's top historic preservation officer previously said would be most affected by the quarry, according to documents released earlier this year by the State Historic Preservation Office of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.

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