Quarry issue dominates Vincent council meeting

Published 11:18 pm Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Although White Rock Quarries’ proposed lime quarry project wasn’t on the Vincent Town Council agenda Tuesday night, members of the community made sure the project was discussed nonetheless.

More than 80 people gathered at the council meeting expressly to hear any discussion on the quarry; at least 25 were outside before the meeting, brandishing signs that read, “NO ROCK QUARRY.” Others wore shirts bearing the same message.

Many were members of the Vincent Historical and Environmental Committee, formerly the Concerned Citizens of Vincent.

Committee member Katie Smith said the group wanted to send a clear message to city leaders.

“Right now, we feel our council is avoiding the issue (of the quarry). They won’t answer our questions,” she said. “We want our council to be accountable.”

Smith said the group is looking into legal options, including a city-wide referendum on the quarry project or, as a last resort, recalls on city leaders.

The meeting itself quickly became controversial, as Charles Cantrell, a quarry protester, said he should have been on the agenda because he was scheduled to speak at the cancelled May 19 meeting. As city officials told him he had been left off the agenda because he had not specifically asked to speak at the Tuesday night meeting, a chorus of offended yells came from the crowd. Cantrell turned and left almost immediately, with much of the crowd following him.

Mayor Ray McAllister then spent about 40 minutes speaking to members of the remaining crowd, attempting to reassure them about the quarry.

“There are a lot of steps to be gone through before Vincent can have a quarry. People say it’s a done deal, and I’ll tell you right now it’s not a done deal,” he said. “We are just beginning to find out if this is any sort of a project we want in Vincent.”

He reminded the crowd that White Rock Quarries has not made a zoning request of the town council. Rather, the next step will be an open forum for citizens to ask questions of quarry officials.

After the meeting, McAllister said he had a responsibility as mayor to listen to the proposal from White Rock Quarries.

“I’ve got some people that said, ‘You shouldn’t even have talked to them in the first place,’” he said. “These people own over $10 million of land here. You’ve got to at least talk to them.”