Quarry company makes presentation to citizens

A line of people seeking information snaked out of Vincent Elementary School’s side entrance Tuesday evening.

The crowd gathered to find out more about the Vecellio Group, a West Palm Beach, Fla. company that has purchased more than 1,000 acres in Vincent with the intent of opening a limestone quarry.

Officials from the Vecellio group presented plans for the quarry project.

Vecellio Group representative Rob Fowler, an environmental lawyer with Birmingham-based law firm Balch and Bingham, assured people that the company is using some of the best available mining technology, including state-of-the-art dust control systems.

“You hear people yelling and screaming about the dust, but we’re capturing the dust,” he said.

The Vecellio Group would also provide noise barriers, limited visibility of the quarry itself through use of sod walls, online notification of blasting schedules, long-term lake and woodland restoration plans and a community outreach program, to include financial support for local scholarships and schools.

According to Vecellio Group officials, Vincent and Shelby County stand to gain a lot from the possible quarry. The company estimated that over a 10-year period, the county could gain more than $6 million in tax revenues from the company and its employees, and Vincent could receive more than $5.5 million.

QUESTIONS REMAIN

While Vincent citizens got some answers, many of them left with even more questions.

Fowler especially attracted a small crowd through much of the meeting, with citizens directing their questions — or complaints — to him.

“If you don’t get the zoning permits, what will you do with the property?” asked citizen Ed Bartlett.

“I don’t know. It’s our property, so I imagine we’ll hang on to it,” Fowler replied.

“My property value is going down, and you can say what you want to about that,” said resident Mickey Kitchens.

Away from the crowd surrounding Fowler, Mayor Ray McAllister said that although he felt the meeting went well, he still had questions about the quarry and wouldn’t throw his support to one side or the other until he got answers.

“I still don’t have near enough information. There’s a lot of questions that need to be answered,” he said. “I plan on asking those questions.”

Felix Dunn, who owns Spring Creek Antiques in Vincent, said he hadn’t made up his mind one way or another on the project.

“I really don’t know yet because I don’t know enough about it yet. I’ve lived here all my life, and I have to weigh the pros and cons,” he said. “The possible pro would be jobs in the area. But this could bring businesses in or it could drive businesses out.”

Council member Ralph Kimble, who has publicly stated his position against the quarry, said he wouldn’t change his mind.

“You cannot put a dollar figure on quality of life,” he said. “What they do here will affect that. I don’t care what they say.”