Vincent council sets public hearing on White Rock zoning request

As opponents of a proposed limestone mining operation waved their “No Quarry” signs and wore surgical masks to demonstrate their distaste for the quarry idea, the Vincent Town Council set a public hearing on White Rock Quarries’ zoning request for May 4.

At the beginning of the April 6 council meeting, council member Ralph Kimble moved to postpone the meeting until other accommodations could be found for all the people who wanted to attend the meeting.

Because of the fire code, some attendees were moved into the courtroom, which is also inside the Vincent Town Hall. Those inside the courtroom were able to listen to the meeting over speakers. Only 35 could fit inside the council room, 40 inside the courtroom and six inside the lobby.

Kimble’s motion failed when no other council member would second the motion.

Jim Hairston, chairman of the planning commission, presented a recommendation that the town council vote to rezone White Rock’s 886 acres of land to a special district zoning status in order to accommodate a quarry.

The council then voted to hold a public hearing for the zoning request May 4.

At the end of the meeting, members of the Vincent community stood to speak about the proposed quarry.

Property owner Perry Cole said he’s unsure White Rock will bring as many jobs as they claim. He said out of White Rock’s proposed 123 new jobs, only 15 would be salaried, and of those, approximately 11 would go to locals. That leaves 108 jobs, 88 percent of the total jobs, to be given to hourly workers.

“It appears White Rock is promising many new jobs but not committing to full-time salaried employment, thus limiting the security of new jobs being promised,” Cole said. “This may be the answer as to why the average quarry in Alabama only employs 35-45 individuals and White Rock has projected many more. How many of those proposed hourly workers will actually work full-time?”

Citizen Charles Cantrell said he was officially informing the town council of a protest against the “illegal decision of the Vincent Planning Commission.”

Cantrell said the White Rock zoning application should have been heard by the Vincent Board of Adjustments per Section 5.5 of the town’s zoning regulations.

Anne Bates Gibbons, an outspoken quarry opponent who has filed a lawsuit against Vincent over White Rock’s rezoning application, said Vincent’s citizens have lost faith in their leaders.

“I am not a second-class citizen, and I deserve the same treatment as those people right there,” she said, pointing to White Rock President Jim Hurley and lawyer Rob Fowler.

Gibbons said town officials must work with the citizens to regain trust.

“We all need to work together. We need to have trust in each other, but unless we work together, that trust will not be reestablished,” she said, to applause.

After the meeting, Hurley said his company has continually provided answers to questions posed by officials and citizens alike. He said White Rock is prepared to present speakers and answers during the May 4 public hearing.

“We’ll continue to present documentation to support our position,” he said.