Commission approves another quarry request

Thu, 02/19/2009 - 3:51pm
By: Ben Nelms

Representatives of Vulcan Materials Company scored two victories in two months in appearances before Coweta County commissioners. Over the opposition of area residents, the board Feb. 17 approved a variance request to reduce the setback for the Madras Quarry located near Ga. Highway 154, U.S. Highway 29 and I-85. Commissioners in late December approved a Special Use permit that allowed the quarry to expand mining activities.

The variance request for the 67.56-acre site reduced the property line setback from 1,000 feet to 0 feet. Vulcan agreed to buffer and berm requirements ranging from 400-890 feet from the property line.

As was the case in December, nearby subdivision residents were adamant that commissioners deny the request. One of those speaking at the meeting was Cornwall Kirkpatrick, who said he found the inside pane of a double-pane kitchen broken last week after hearing a loud noise. Kirkpatrick said he had three windows replaced on prior occasions, adding that he believed blasting from the quarry was responsible.

Another neighbor, Susan Roe, said her family had lived in the area since 1991. But it has been during the past 4-5 years that vibrations from blasting had increased, she said.

“The (house) foundation shifted and now it’s shifted again,” Roe said. “We’ve got cracking tile in an upstairs bathroom and huge cracks in the ceiling.”

Another neighbor, also an engineer, was Robin Turnow. He said the probable cause of damage experienced by nearby residents was from the density of the earth between homes and the quarry and distance between them.

“They are blasting deeper and deeper,” he said. “Now they’re on a rock shelf that we share.”

Perhaps the most curious of the statements made by residents opposing the request, statements that drew no response from the commission or Vulcan representatives, came from Springwater Chase subdivision Homeowners Association President Brian O’Donnell. His statements dealt with a recent $125,000 settlement between Vulcan and nearby Arbor Springs subdivision over the expansion request approved by commissioners in December.

“Our due process was violated. The Arbor Springs agreement left out the majority of the homeowner associations in the area,” O’Donnell said, adding that the Arbor Springs resident that negotiated the agreement with Vulcan is an attorney whose firm had helped negotiate another Vulcan agreement in Henry County.

Following the comments by residents, Vulcan attorney Pete Degnan said he knew the issue was an emotional one, but insisted the company met with all the surrounding residential and commercial property owners in the immediate area. In his remarks the only subdivision he referenced was Arbor Springs. Degnan said Vulcan will conduct approximately one blast per week and that each blast will have a duration of approximately one second.

“We agreed to a standard that will govern vibrations,” Degnan said, referencing the principle of peak particle velocity that resulting from blasting. He said Vulcan agreed to a vibration level of .8 inches per second rather than a more customary two inches per second. “This offers protection to the immediate property owners and others further away. It’ll reduce the vibrational impact and it’s the toughest (standard) in the industry and will probably be the new standard in Georgia.”

Asked by commissioners what agency regulates blast activities and if blast records would be made available to the public, Degnan said the state fire marshal is responsible for monitoring those activities and that the records would be available.

Degnan also told commissioners that berms along the perimeter of the property would reduce the size and shape of the blast zone.

After a brief discussion, commissioners approved the variance request on a 4-1 vote. Commissioner Rodney Brooks voted in opposition.

The Special Use Permit request approved by commissioners in December accompanied the request that the property be rezoned from Rural Conservation and Commercial to Industrial. The issue had been brought before the commission on three previous occasions over the past several years by a consent order requiring that the commission consider the request. But in December Vulcan representatives brought with them a settlement agreement to expand operations approved by nearby Arbor Springs Plantation Homeowners Association.

Complaints by Coweta subdivision residents mirror the long-time complaints from South Fulton residents neighboring Vulcan’s Red Oak quarry near I-85 near College Park. Area residents have complained for years that blasting has been responsible for extreme noise, along with cracks to the foundations of their homes and driveways and other significant structural damage.

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Submitted by mysteryman on Thu, 02/19/2009 - 9:26pm.

BECAUSE OF ESCALATING LEGAL ACTION, THE QUARRY IS NOW OWNED BY MARTIN MARRIETTA CORPORATION WHO HAD TO POST A SUBSTANTIAL BOND FAR ABOVE THE AMOUNT THAT ARBOR SPRINGS AGREED TOO. Good luck in fighting this monster, you will be better placing a for sale sign in your yard, just make sure you do not show your home to potential buyers on the day that they blast, and make sure your sale is with no disclosure.. PEACE...

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