Calera board okays possible quarry site

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Calera Planning Commission approved a rezoning change last Tuesday that will allow Chemical Lime Company to build a quarry near Oliver Park.

The recommendation virtually completes a deal that will let the company dig for limestone in exchange for a $7 million contribution towards a new sports complex.

Back in January, Chemical Lime pledged to help fund the 55-acre park, but only if the city agreed to annex and zone the quarry site for industrial use.

The city kept its end of the bargain by annexing the land on Feb. 21. The plan now goes back to the council for final approval next week.

The proposed park would be build adjacent to the future Calera High School and would include baseball, softball and soccer fields, as well as tennis courts and a walking path.

Calera High School Principal Ken Mobley said without Chemical Lime&8217;s help, the new park would be at least 10 years away. &8220;It would be such a great asset to our school. I&8217;m so proud for the children,&8221; said Mobley.

But the 100 residents who turned out Tuesday to say &8220;no thanks&8221; to the trade-off didn&8217;t share Mobley&8217;s sentiments.

&8220;They tried to this before, and it was turned down,&8221; said Frank Hosey. &8220;The only difference is that we didn&8217;t have this $7 million dollar bribe.&8221;

Most residents worry what effects the digging and blasting would have on pollution, traffic and property values.

&8220;It will have a permanent and negative impact on quality of life,&8221; said Don Brockway, a lawyer representing four families who oppose the quarry.

Jim Kelley, vice president of Chemical Lime, promised property owners that his company would do everything in its power to make the quarry &8220;virtually unnoticeable.&8221;

Chemical Lime plans to use sound dampening technology, dust controls and a 25-foot embankment to help conceal the quarry, according to Kelley. A conveyor belt will also be used to move rock from the quarry site to the Montevallo plant, which Kelly says won&8217;t add any truck traffic to Alabama 25.

A few residents at Tuesday&8217;s meeting say they support the deal. &8220;I think this is one of the best things to financially happen to Calera,&8221; said James Miles. &8220;We need to think about what is in the best interest of everyone.&8221;

The planning commission will consider rezoning another 285 acres of Chemical Lime property at its April meeting