Vincent citizens speak out on quarry

Vincent citizens took advantage of their chance to speak out on the proposed limestone quarry during a planning commission public hearing Jan. 26.

Dozens stepped to the microphone, both to speak for and against White Rock Quarries’ zoning request. The request, if approved, would rezone the company’s 886 acres of land from rural agricultural to a special district zoning status.

Charles Cantrell, of the Vincent Historical and Environmental Society, was one of the first to speak.

“All quarries have one thing in common. They destroy communities,” Cantrell said, citing especially lower property values, sinkholes and blasting damage.

“The state of Alabama wants a rock quarry, but they don’t care where it is,” he said. “The majority of the citizens don’t want a rock quarry. No quarry. Vincent forever.”

Soon after, 92-year-old Tom Bell stepped to the microphone to throw his support behind the quarry.

“My family has lived in Vincent since 1877. My father was the first mayor of Vincent in 1897. I am for the rezoning of the property for the quarry,” he said. “I want to thank White Rock for the money given to our schools. Vincent needs industry so that people do not have to leave here for work.”

Bell also specifically mentioned the effort by some Vincent citizens to have the town annexed into Harpersville.

“We have never had any dealings with Harpersville, and we don’t need them now,” he said. “Annexation into Harpersville is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of.”

Vincent property owner Janis Cole said she and her husband hired a geologist to do a private study of their property and what the effects of a quarry could be. She said the findings led her to believe the quality and quantity of her water could dip, and property values could go down.

“My grandmother told me every day, ‘Honey, all that glitters ain’t gold,’” Cole said. “Look beyond the glitter.”

Judy Naugle, also a member of the Vincent Historical and Environmental Society, stepped up to read a simple e-mail from Mike Phillips, a Vincent resident serving in Afghanistan: “I am a citizen of Vincent, and I say no quarry.”

Margie Robertson, who walked to the microphone vehemently waving a pro-quarry placard, said it all comes down to one thing: jobs.

“We need jobs. You see the gray (in our hair). Look around. You see how many young people are here. It’s 10 percent unemployed in Alabama. That’s the average. Shelby County is 7.3 percent unemployed,” she said. “We’ve got to have jobs in order to buy bread to put on the table and in order to keep families here.”

The issue now goes back to the planning commission, which must decide whether to approve the zoning request. The commission will then make a recommendation to the town council.