Anti-quarry community leaders hold press conference in Vincent

Published 4:00 pm Friday, January 15, 2010

Approximately 20 people gathered in front of the Vincent Gin for a press conference called by members of the Vincent Historical and Environmental Society at 10 a.m. Jan. 15. Several Vincent residents spoke about their reasons for opposing the proposed quarry that White Rock Quarries wants to bring to their community.

Anne Gibbons opened by talking about her family’s source of water, a 250-foot-deep well built by her father. She said she had been told by White Rock that her well, along with others in the community, could lose its capacity for water if the quarry is built.

Jo Mudd, who owns a catering and food production company in Vincent, spoke about the property value depreciation that will most likely be a result of digging the quarry. She estimated a $4.6 million dollar decrease in property value for the area as well as a $200,000 decrease in tax dollars if the quarry comes to Vincent.

“I moved away from Pelham so that I could have a horse farm. But if the quarry comes, I would have to seriously consider moving my business and home for fear of sinkholes,” Mudd said.

A Vincent resident for four years, John McCutcheon moved to the area from Birmingham. He said he is facing a potential loss of $30,000 in the property value of his farm. In his speech, he focused on the environmental issues of the quarry like the noise and light pollution, an increase in traffic from the trucks, and the adverse effect on wildlife.

Dr. Karen Joines gave more facts about the proposed quarry. “We have been told that it will be 80 acres wide and will expand between 30-50 acres per year for the first few years. Can we even imagine the magnitude of the hole in the ground that large?”

Lifelong residents Otis McCrimmon and Kim Riggins both spoke about how the quarry would change their hometown for good.

“Everyone here gets along with everybody, it’s quiet and beautiful, but already this quarry is dividing us,” said Riggins. “It will destroy our ability to enjoy sitting on the front porch at night or listen to the birds in the day,” she said.

McCrimmon’s property on Highway 62 is near the proposed quarry site and he passes scenic cotton and soybean fields everyday. “They won’t be there anymore if the quarry comes to town,” he said.

White Rock spokesperson Stephen Bradley said that the numbers and allegations from the press conference are “completely false.”

“Neither cotton, nor soybean, nor any other agriculture will be affected by the quarry,” said Bradley.

He said the total economic impact for the town of Vincent would be a positive increase of $56 million over the next 10 years. The quarry would create 120 new jobs during its first phase with an annual payroll totalling $7.4 million.

“The tax on the purchase of equipment that White Rock would pay to the town of Vincent would be $3.4 million during the first 18 months of operation at the quarry,” said Bradley. In addition, White Rock has pledged $1.6 million in contributions for Vincent’s schools, fire department, street paving projects, a youth recreational facility, and a senior center, he said.

Bradley also refuted the property value depreciation claims and listed Pelham, Alabaster, and Calera as examples of places with active quarries that have seen major property value increases.

On Jan. 26 the Vincent zoning board will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. in the Vincent High School gym to allow citizens to voice their opinions about the quarry. Then Vincent’s planning commission will either accept or reject the proposal to rezone the area for the quarry.

The commission will then give their recommendation to the city council and mayor, who will have the final decision in the quarry debate.