A large group who gathered in opposition to the establishments of two mining facilities in early August — and saw the requests withdrawn a day later — may be having a bad case of deja vu.
After the swell of opposition to the two pending requests to construct sand and gravel mining operations along Five Bridge Road and High House Road, a letter was sent by Attorney Andrew Jackson to Clinton-Sampson Planning director Mary Rose stating that the requests were being withdrawn. Jackson, representing Belvoir Sod, LLC, added “my client reserves the right to re-submit the applications at a later date.”
That’s just what has happened.
The requests from Drafting and Design Services, Inc. to establish operations at the properties, owned by Emerald Sod, LLC and Belvoir Sod, LLC, are now back on the table. All land is owned by County Commissioner Clark Wooten, Rose has noted.
She said the new request was received Sept. 24 and the cases are scheduled to be heard by the Sampson County Planning Board on Thursday, Oct. 22, in the Clinton City Hall Auditorium at 221 Lisbon St., Clinton.
The recent development has prompted a group calling itself “Belvoir Township-No to Mining” to once again meet at McGee United Methodist Church in opposition to the request. The meeting is set for tonight (Tuesday) at 7 p.m.
“The community and those opposed to any sand and gravel dredge mining in and around the Belvoir Township” are holding the meeting, according to resident Billie Jo King.
“Please attend and help us preserve our community from destruction,” she stated.
The topic is nothing new to the residents, who have held multiple community meetings, signed petitions and voiced concerns about the proposed mining establishments.
During July’s Sampson County Planning Board meeting, numerous adjacent landowners shared their concerns of declining property values, adverse health effects, increased noise and traffic and declining water quality they felt would result from mining operations. Many echoed those comments at the August meeting.
“It just devastates the neighborhood.” said Billy Satterfield, who resides on High House Road.
King and Carrie Cooper went to a similar operation, American Materials in Ivanhoe, and discovered a fairly vacant area devoid of many residences, but home to plenty of blowing dust.
“In my opinion, I can’t imagine anyone saying that’s OK to go in my backyard,” Cooper noted at the time. “It’s not a pretty sight. I saw nothing but dust everywhere. All you see on the road is trucks and all you see in that area is sand and dust.”
The Five Bridge operation was proposed to operate from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. That project area contained approximately 510 acres, with the proposed development encompassing 330.5 acres. The High House Road operation was proposed to operate Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. That property contains approximately 279.42 acres and the project was to utilize about half the property, at 141.8 acres.
Neither operation was to have blasting to mine material, according to the proposals.
For a special use permit to be granted, the board must find that the use: will not materially endanger the public health or safety if located according to plans; meets all required conditions and specifications; will not substantially injure the value of adjoining or abutting property, or that the use is a public necessity; and that it will be in harmony with the area and in general conformity with the Sampson County Land Use Plan.
Following approval by the board, the zoning administrator is authorized to issue a special use permit.
Attorney Zachary Rivenbark, who lives in Clinton but practices in Fayetteville, previously offered his pro bono services to the Belvoir Township group fighting the mines.
“I feel like this is wrong,” he has stated. “Mr. Wooten has the burden of proof to prove to the board he can meet the four elements and I don’t think he can do it.”
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.