Dow claims misinformation clouding quarry proposal

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 31, 2005

&uot;It would be constitutionally impossible for (the city of Alabaster) to deny us (proposed quarry principals) access across property we own with a private road.&uot;

Those were the words of Robert J. Dow, the man behind the proposed quarry in Alabaster.

The property where the quarry is proposed is located near Meadow View Elementary School and has come under attack from citizens and state and local elected officials.

About 400 citizens, elected officials and their representatives, among others, showed up for a recent organizational meeting held at the school to stop the quarry.

Among concerns expressed were nearness to the school, traffic, noise and the adverse environmental impact on surrounding subdivisions, municipal drinking water supplies and wetlands.

Alabaster Mayor David Frings, who is among those leading the fight against the quarry, begs to differ with Dow about an access road.

&uot;Before they disturb the land, he has to come to the city for a land disturbance permit which means he is going to have to come face us in a meeting,&uot; Frings said. &uot;If Mr. Dow is providing the public service he says he is, I don’t understand his reluctance to face us.&uot;

Frings said Dow would also be required to go before the state Department of Transportation.

When asked why he did not appear before a recent Alabaster Planning and Zoning Board meeting to champion a request, Dow referred

to the meeting as a &uot;witch hunt.&uot;

A request from Dow was on the Alabaster Planning and Zoning Board’s May 24 agenda. But it was unanimously turned down by board members present when Dow did not appear to speak on behalf of his request to rezone an additional 100 feet from Agriculture to a

Community Business District at the old Bruno Property located off Highway 119 South across from County Road 80.

Alabaster Councilmember Tommy Ryals said of the rejected request, &uot;This is the third time (Dow) has brought something back to the zoning board and really hasn’t been up front about what he wanted.

&uot;He has already said on TV stations that he has access to 119. We have not approved any road. He has never asked for a road, but his plans show a driveway and some sort of retail and future residential development. But what he really wants is a road to the quarry.&uot;

Speaking against Dow’s request at the Planning and Zoning Board meeting were Frings and Councilmember Jerry Workman.

Frings said a quarry would be detrimental to the cities of Alabaster, Calera and Montevallo.

Dow said, &uot;We have purchased the Bruno property for access to Highway 119.&uot;

He also said, &uot;We are buying 233 acres from the Nolens (W.M. and Ruby).

He noted that there is a 25-foot berm around the site 1,700 feet from Highway 119 and 2,100 feet from Smokey Road.

Dow also maintained there would be no truck traffic on Smokey Road.

When asked why he did not mention a quarry in his presentations to the city, he said, &uot;There was no need to mention the quarry.&uot;

He said he bought acreage with intention to put in a commercial development in the front and use the property to get access to the Nolen Property.

When asked about the overwhelming public reaction against the quarry, Dow said, &uot;Obviously, we’re disappointed that all of this got in the hands of people not knowledgeable about what we intend to do and where the quarry is planned.&uot;

He also questioned the involvement of botanist Dr. T.M. (Mike) Hardig, associate professor of biology at the University of Montevallo.

Dow claimed Hardig is working with a developer to get a subdivision that backs up to Ebenezer Swamp.

Dow said pesticides from the subdivision would pollute the swamp while the quarry will release filtered water back into the environment.

In contrast, however, Hardig stressed that he has received no money from any developer and characterized his role as one on behalf of the university to protect Ebenezer Swamp.

&uot;What the university has done with the developer is instead of categorically opposing development, is to work with the developer to develop a stormwater management plan so the swamp is not loaded with pesticides and herbicides.

&uot;The swamp can survive development if it’s smart … if you put in a system to treat the water low tech such as retention ponds and green swells.&uot;

He stressed, &uot;I receive nothing from developers … I’ve not received any money for anything. I stand up as an advocate for the swamp. I’m trying to coax them to do the right thing.&uot;

Hardig said of the swamp, &uot;We can live with sane development, but the quarry is not something we can live with because it’s not a matter of treating the water pumped out but draining the swamp from beneath.&uot;

Dow said the quarry would be one-and-a-half miles from the school &uot;as the crow flies.&uot; And he explained that blasting underground is different than surface blasting.

Dow said there would be no lime dust and there won’t be any rock processing at the quarry.

Despite opposition, Dow answered &uot;absolutely&uot; to whether he would continue to pursue a permit for the quarry.

Dow said the limestone to be mined at the proposed quarry is rare and normally found 50 to 100 feet below ground. But, he said, core samples show that the material at the proposed site is located only 10 to 20 feet below the topsoil.