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Berkeley Co. Council to discuss whether to appeal quarry permits

February 16, 2011|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — The Berkeley County Council today is expected to consider whether to appeal the state Department of Environmental Protection's decision to issue permits for a controversial quarry to operate in Gerrardstown, W.Va.

The county was notified on Feb. 3 via certified mail of its right to appeal the quarry and pollutant discharge permits that were issued to North Mountain Shale LLC on Jan. 26 and Jan. 27, according to a letter from DEP permit supervisor Randy Moore.

County legal counsel Norwood Bentley III said Wednesday that it appeared the DEP did factor public concern about the proposed quarry based on restrictions that were attached with the permits.

Council members are expected to at least discuss the issue today as part of their regular meeting, which begins at 9:30 a.m. in the council chambers at 400 W. Stephen St. in Martinsburg.

The DEP said in the news release on Jan. 26 that North Mountain Shale must maintain vegetation and landscaping to mitigate any visual intrusion upon Prospect Hill, a historic property, and the nearby Gerrardstown Historic District.

North Mountain Shale, which is affiliated with Continental Brick Co. in Martinsburg, also would have to limit excavation and hauling to daylight hours Monday through Saturday.

When notified by the public that a funeral or memorial service is to take place in the cemetery next to the haulage access road, the company is to make "reasonable efforts" to avoid conflicts, according to the news release.

The company is permitted to remove the shale up to the 900-foot elevation mark with only ten acres of active mineral removal at any time, and is required to reclaim each section before moving on to the next, the agency has said.

The permit does not allow North Mountain Shale or any other company to target any mineral other than the Martinsburg Shale at the 100-acre site off W.Va. 51.  

The permit limits the total disturbed area of the North Mountain site and a second quarry site controlled by Continental Brick near Martinsburg to 281 acres at any given time, according to an four-point attachment that was provided to county leaders.

Community leaders, including county council members Anthony J. "Tony" Petrucci and William L. "Bill" Stubblefield, have previously aired concerns about the project's potential impact on water, air, road conditions, property values and overall quality of life.

In a statement released after DEP issued the permits, Continental Brick Co. Vice President Don Sult noted the regulatory review included work done by geologists and engineers in a "lengthy and thoughtful deliberation."

"We agree with this decision and look forward to the opportunity to begin our operations in a responsible manner and with due regard to the concerns and sensitivities of the community," Sult said.

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