County Commission tables resolution for White Rock Quarries truck routes

By BRAD GASKINS / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – The Shelby County Commission tabled a resolution March 14 that would set in motion a plan to eventually designate certain segments of three county roads as truck routes for use by White Rock Quarries in Vincent.

The resolution, which would affect Shelby County roads 62, 85 and 463, was put off until at least the next commission meeting March 28.

After nearly an hour of public comment and debate, commissioners opted to take at least another two weeks to consider the impact the proposed route would have on residents of Vincent and Harpersville.

“I’m pleased they didn’t rush into something,” Anne Bates Gibbons said after the regular scheduled meeting at the County Administration Building.

Gibbons, whose family has owned land in Vincent since the 1940s, is against the quarry in general, not just the proposed truck routes. She filed a lawsuit about a year ago to try and block the quarry from opening and operating on 866 acres in Vincent.

“Any action for the commission to consider is certainly premature, because you’re acting on the assumption that I will not be successful in my suit,” Gibbons said during the meeting. “I may assure you that I will not stop until I have exhausted every legal remedy.”

About 25 people in opposition to the proposed truck routes – many opposed to the quarry in general – attended the meeting. Gibbons was one of four people to speak in opposition. Harpersville councilman William Rayfield opposed the current route and proposed an alternative route.

As currently proposed, the truck route would start at the intersection of Shelby County 62 and U.S. 280, run east along 62 to the intersection of Shelby County 463. It would then turn left and run north along 463 to the intersection of Shelby County 85, then turn right and run south along 85 to the quarry’s main entrance.

The resolution would give Shelby County Engineer Kenneth Cole the authority to handle the technical details and give Shelby County Attorney Butch Ellis the authority to handle any legal issues.

Shelby County roads 62, 85 and 463 were not constructed to handle the heavy loads on a daily basis. Therefore, Cole stated in a letter dated Jan. 11 to White Rock’s engineering firm, numerous upgrades to the existing roads will have to be made before the roads are designated truck routes.

White Rock was represented at the meeting by Jim Meads, a professional engineer with Sain Associates of Birmingham. Meads said an estimated 85 trucks per day would use the routes.

Cole said White Rock would be “paying 100 percent of the cost associated with this.” The total cost of the upgrades would cost White Rock $4-$5 million, Cole said.

If approved, the resolution would give White Rock the go-ahead to begin the design phase.

For the truck route, all utilities outside the proposed shoulders of Shelby County roads 62, 85 and 463 would have to be relocated, according to terms of Cole’s Jan. 11 letter to Meads.  Turn lanes would need to be added in several locations. Intersections would need to be realigned at several locations. Driveway pipes and mailboxes would have to be relocated to construct shoulders.

“I think we’ve done due diligence at this point to believe that we can make this design work within the present ride of way,” Meads said.

According to the resolution, trucks would be permitted to travel both directions along the route so long as the trucks don’t exceed a maximum total weight of 80,000 pounds.

It’s possible sink holes, or other “bad” spots, could develop along the route at first. If that should happen, Cole said the county would expect White Rock to pay to fix it for a period of 10 years. After that, the financial burden would fall to the taxpayers.

“When the taxpayers take it over to maintain, all the bad spots will be fixed and it should function as other well-established truck routes that we have in the county,” Cole said.

Once ground is broken for construction, the project would be completed, even if White Rock were to go out of business, Cole said. The county, in this hypothetical situation, would use bonds to complete the project and then decide if it still wanted to designate the roads as a truck route.

The quarry has been a controversial topic in Vincent. Some citizens on March 1 filed a recall petition against Vincent Mayor Ray McAllister and four of the five town council members after the council approved White Rock’s request to rezone 866 acres of land to accommodate the limestone quarry last summer

In other meeting news, the commission:

-Adopted a resolution opposing any proposed state legislation that has a negative impact on local E-911 funding, creates further disparity or inequality in the assessment of local E-911 fees on county residents, or takes away control of any Emergency Communications District in Shelby County to administer local E-911 operations.

-Adopted a resolution approving a transfer application request for retail beer and retail table wine for the Citgo Food Mart located at 11369 Highway 280 in Westover. It passed with an 8-1 vote, with Commissioner Larry Dillard casting the dissenting vote.

“Anything associated with Citgo, owned by Mr. Chavez of Venezuela, then I’m against,” Dillard said, referring to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. “I’ll be voting ‘no’ on this one today. It’s because of the ownership of a terrible person.”