Quarry-stop efforts continue

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The fight to stop the location of a new quarry in Alabaster continues.

A second public information meeting hosted by the city of Alabaster was held at Meadow View Elementary last week.

Among those in attendance were representatives of the University of Montevallo, the city of Montevallo, Alabaster city officials and Shelby County Commissioner Jon Parker.

According to information passed out during the meeting, Middle Tennessee Land Development LLC has proposed opening a limestone quarry operation in the southern Cahaba Valley adjacent to the &uot;ecologically-significant Ebenezer Swamp wetlands.&uot;

Robert Dow, developer, appraiser and broker, said the proposed quarry would be located south of Old Smokey Road, north of the city of Alabaster and northeast of Highway 119.

Mayor David Frings reported that air and water permit requests have been applied for with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management to locate the quarry near Alabaster.

He also reported that the University of Montevallo and the Montevallo Foundation have filed suit to stop the quarry based on environmental issues.

In addition, Hollie Cost, a member of the Montevallo City Council, reported that the city of Montevallo had passed a resolution opposing the quarry and sent a letter to ADEM raising questions about the operation.

The Montevallo resolution cited, as its reasons for opposition, the affect on the city of Montevallo’s water supply and damage to Ebenezer Swamp.

A committee of volunteer citizens against the quarry was formed and the addresses of local, state and federal agencies were provided to the public along with a sample letter of opposition.

Pro-quarry information was also distributed in which it was reported that 2,000-plus jobs are associated with the mining business in the immediate vicinity and that when completed, the quarry would provide a huge reservoir of water.

The information supporting the quarry also included an invitation for those who would like to visit the site on July 9 at 10 a.m. to fax 985-8869.

A bus, made available by the developers, will leave from Meadow View Elementary.

A letter sent to ADEM and signed by Montevallo councilmembers Cost, Becky Cox-Rodgers, Dana Byrd and city clerk Thompson reads in part, &uot;On behalf of the parties listed above (city officials, concerned citizens, hydro-geologists and university professors), the councilmembers listed below are requesting a response to each of these questions so that the concerns of our community can be addressed before the quarry permits are issued.&uot;

Questions included water supply quality and flora and fauna.

Included among the questions were:

&uot;Which is more likely to cause the collapse of sinkholes and underground water systems, repeated blasting and heavy equipment caused vibrations or the lowering of the water?

&uot;Have calculations been computed to determine how much water volume the aquifers in the area can take without causing an adverse impact to the water supply?

&uot;How much more calcium loading of the waters of Spring Creek, Shoal Creek and Dry Creek can be done before irreversible ecological damage occurs to the remaining flora and fauna?

&uot;Has ADEM examined in depth, quarries and manufacturing facilities in Shelby County for buried waste materials, toxic or otherwise?&uot;

During the meeting, a member of Ebenezer United Methodist Church also expressed concerns about the affect of the proposed quarry on the historic church building.

Members of the church’s administrative council (reprinted as a letter to the editor in today’s Shelby County Reporter, Page A-6) expressed dismay.

The letter, which was sent to ADEM, states that the church is about 6,700 feet due south of the Nolan property, the site of the proposed quarry.

&uot;Because of the close proximity we are concerned about possible structural damage to Ebenezer United Methodist Church Building due to airborne pollutants resulting from blasting, removal of limestone and the accompanying heavy equipment traffic within and to and from the quarry.

&uot;The church building was constructed in 1818 and due to its age, is a fragile structure,&uot; the letter reads.

According to information provided by Dow, truck traffic from the quarry would be strictly controlled.

&uot;There will be no truck traffic access to Old Smokey Road and no trucks will be allowed to travel on Old Smokey Road. Trucks from the quarry will not travel near Meadow View Elementary School.&uot;

Dow has also attempted to allay fears about air pollution.

&uot;No lime or cement will be processed at the site. There will be no kilns or smoke stacks&uot; and &uot;Only minimal crushing will take place at the site, far less than normally occurs at other quarries,&uot; he has said.

The citizens committee of volunteers that was formed to contact neighbors and inform them about the stop-the-quarry website and other quarry issues includes Cheryl Gaines, Susie Amrine, Dana Vidrine, Clair Davis, George Henry and Mary Ann Brown. The website can be accessed through the city’s website, www.cityofalabaster.com