A group opposed to the construction of sand and gravel mining operations along Five Bridge Road and High House Road again voiced their concerns Tuesday night, noting the need to hire an attorney to fight the issuance of permits.
An attorney who previously offered his services pro bono is no longer available and a hearing is scheduled for next week. By group vote, an attorney was hired and leaders of the group noted his first order of business was likely going to be to request a continuance from the scheduled hearing date.
Requests from Drafting and Design Services, Inc. to establish operations at the properties, owned by Emerald Sod, LLC and Belvoir Sod, LLC, 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 meeting will start at 6:30 p.m.
Requests were originally withdrawn in early August, but re-submitted late last month.
“We knew it was going to happen. We were certain it was going to happen,” said Billy Satterfield of the re-submission. “It was just a matter of time.”
Satterfield, who resides on High House Road, has led meetings of the group calling itself “Belvoir Township-Say No to Mining.” The group met at McGee United Methodist Church on Tuesday night to again share concerns about the proposed mining establishments and talk about their options.
“We’re kind of where we started,” Satterfield remarked to those in attendance.
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 Many echoed those comments at an August meeting — held a day before the request was originally withdrawn — and it was more of the same at Tuesday night’s gathering, which saw less people than in August.
Satterfield explained that attorney Zachary Rivenbark would no longer be able to offer his services due to a conflict. That would require the hiring of new counsel and the group agreed on attorney Clifton Hester.
“Needless to say we need money and we need contributions,” said Satterfield.
“I’ve had people give anywhere from $25 to $500,” said Chuck Graham, serving as the group’s treasurer. Prior to the Tuesday night, the group had a balance of $2,355 — enough to put down a retainer on Hester, but not much else.
The Five Bridge operation is proposed to operate from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. That project area contains approximately 510 acres, with the proposed development encompassing 330.5 acres. The High House Road operation is 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.
All land is owned by County Commissioner Clark Wooten, Clinton-Sampson Planning director Mary Rose has noted.
For a special use permit to be granted, the Planning Board must find that the use meets four standards, including those of safety and required specifications, and that the use will not substantially injure property values and is in harmony with the area.
“I can’t see how a giant hole is going to be in harmony with my neighborhood,” Satterfield remarked.
Following approval by the board, the zoning administrator is authorized to issue a special use permit, which is then filed with the county clerk. On that date, a 30-day period begins in which an appeal of the Planning Board’s decision may be filed with Superior Court.
“There is no automatic stay of permit activity if an appeal is filed with superior court,” Rose noted when reached Wednesday. “A party may apply to the superior court for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction pending the outcome of the petition for Writ of Certiorari.”
The Belvoir Township group said it was imperative that everyone get on board in opposing an operation they said would be harmful.A s of Tuesday night, there was just shy of 400 signatures on a petition opposing the proposed mining establishments. That was expected to grow to close to 500 in the days that followed.
“And we want your presence at the Planning Board meeting,” said Satterfield.
Hardy Ballance said there very well may be health effects down the road, but the traffic — dozens upon dozens of trucks a day, they said — would be immediate.
“What we’re going to be dealing with immediately is traffic. Is that something we want to deal with every day?” Ballance asked, greeted by a resounding ‘no’ from a vocal audience. “That’s why we need to get people involved and get that room filled at the Planning Board meeting.”
Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.