Quarry may be in Vincent’s future

Published 7:08 pm Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A mining company or its representatives have purchased more than 1,000 acres of land in Vincent, and community speculation is the company wants to develop a mining quarry in the town.

Vincent town attorney Corey Moore confirmed at least some members of the town council and the zoning board met within the last month, individually or in small groups, in unpublicized meetings with attorneys representing the Vecellio Group of West Palm Beach, Fla. There were no meetings with the entire council present, Moore said.

Stephen Bradley of Stephen Bradley and Associates, a public affairs firm, said he represents the “entity that is bringing an economic development project to Vincent.” He said the meetings took place on March 31.

“We had 15 or 16 people involved in the meetings. It was impossible to get everybody’s calendar coordinated to meet at one particular time,” he said. “The meetings were held at several times throughout the day.”

Bradley said it was essential for the meetings to remain unpublicized because the possible project is a “very significant economic development project for Vincent.

“There has never been an economic development project in the history of Alabama that has not been confidential, up to a certain point,” he said. “These projects generally take a lot of time and planning, and they have to be confidential. It’s just the nature of how these projects work.”

When asked if the small group meetings were held to avoid a quorum, Bradley said there was no attempt to do so.

“We certainly would not have violated any kind of open meetings statute,” he said.

Moore said although he had been present at the meetings, he would not discuss the substance of the meetings. He also would not confirm or deny that Vecellio wants to operate a mining quarry in Vincent.

Moore said the company, which purchased more than 1,000 acres in Vincent over several years, wants to meet with the Town Council and citizens about plans for the land. He said such a meeting should happen within the month.

“The mayor and council are anxious to hear and see (Vecellio’s) presentation as well,” Moore said.

Before the private meetings with company representatives, neither Moore nor town officials knew what was happening with the land, he said.

“That (meeting) was the first that I was aware of it,” he said. “I don’t think anybody knew exactly what was going on.”

Bridgette Jordan-Smith, a Vincent council member, confirmed she was part of a meeting with representatives of a company wanting to develop a quarry in Vincent, but would not comment further.

When asked whether she signed any kind of confidentiality agreement involving the issue, she refused to answer the question.

“I do not have any comment for the public and I am not going to answer any more of your questions,” she said.

Moore said no member of the council has signed any confidentiality agreement with the Vecellio Group.

Council member Mary Lee Reynolds said she only knows that a lot of Vincent land has been bought up, but said she does not “officially” know anything about a proposal of a quarry in Vincent. She said she has not signed any confidentiality agreement.

Repeated attempts to contact by phone Mayor Ray McAllister and council members Johnny Edwards, Larry King and Ralph Kimble were unsuccessful.