Decision expected soon on quarry permit
By Jennifer Garlesky • Staff Writer
Tuckasegee community members will learn next week if a rock quarry gets state approval to be placed in their neighborhood.
If the project, located at the intersection of N.C. 281 and N.C. 107, receives approval from the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources, county officials have gone on the record stating the project will be denied a county permit.
“The county will reject the project,” said Linda Cable, Jackson County planning coordinator. “The site of the proposed quarry doesn’t meet the industrial development ordinance.”
County commissioners adopted an ordinance in 2002 that states “a mine or quarry can not be built less than 1,320 linear feet from the closest point of a property line of a commercial or residential building.” This ordinance was developed after another quarry was approved in the Dillsboro area.
The only notification county officials have received about the Tuckasegee site is a letter for DENR, Cable said.
Judy Wehner, DENR assistant state mining specialist, confirmed on Friday (Oct.26) that the project is still under review and would not comment on specifics. Once a decision is made and if a permit is issued, all adjoining landowners, county officials and concerned citizens will be notified, she explained.
Rural, slow lifestyle gone
The quiet, close-knit community atmosphere of Tuckasegee will change drastically if the quarry is approved, say community members. The rock quarry proposal scares some residents, such as Beverly Turrentine, who has lived in Tuckasegee her whole life.
“The thought of something like this coming into the community — it will be total destruction,” said the 44-year-old, whose property faces the quarry site. “The days of sitting on the front porch with family will stop.”
Turrentine’s family has lived in Tuckasegee for more than six generations. She, like others, is looking to county officials to stop the project from happening.
“I am putting all my trust in my county government,” Turrentine said.
The proposed rock quarry is not only an environmental concern, but also a public health issue for some who live nearby.
Jesse Hooper is worried about the amount of dust that will be created from the mining operations. The 77-year-old woman has several upper respiratory problems.
“I couldn’t live here,” Hooper said. “I couldn’t breath. It’s hard enough to live here as it is.”
“This is a home and people shouldn’t run you out,” she added.
Hooper’s son, Buck Stewart, is another Tuckasegee resident whose daily lifestyle would change if the quarry is built. Stewart owns and operates a tree farm and nursery that adjoins the property.
“It will harm my business,” he said. “I just hope the state does not permit it. It (the rock quarry) would desecrate Tuckasegee,” he said.
Neighboring property owner Thomas Crowe said his way of life will change as well.
Even though Crowe rents the piece of land that lays 90 feet away from the mining site, he would no longer be able to plant the large garden from which he sells fresh produce to local restaurants and at the farmer’s market.
“I would have to move, which would mean that my whole way of life would be turned upside down.”
Allens Creek rock quarry
Haywood County resident Charles Miller is quite familiar with the problems associated with living next to a rock quarry. Miller resides about one mile away from Harrison Construction gravel crushing and asphalt site along Allens Creek Road.
Living by an active mining site has changed his way of life. He doesn’t hear much noise from the quarry, Miller said, but the truck traffic is troublesome. Numerous dump trucks travel at a high speed down the road, which has a posted speed limit of 35 mph. When the truck drivers use their Jake brakes, it causes a loud, rumbling noise.
“On a busy day there would be about 1,000 trucks driving along this road,” he said.
A year ago Miller brought this problem to the attention of Waynesville town aldermen and an ordinance was adopted that bans the use of Jake brakes along Allens Creek Road.
Other problems Miller’s neighbors often complain of is the amount of dust that gets inside their house. “A lot of dust comes in the house,” he said. “You can go into someone’s kitchen and wipe the table and in an hour it’s full of dust.”
Members of the United Neighbors of Tuckasegee, a grassroots campaign opposed to the quarry, said they would like to purchase the site and build a community building there.
“We need a meeting place,’ Turrentine said.
The group has been in negotiations with property owner James Vanderwoude of Macon County about purchasing the land, but that idea is no longer possible. Vanderwoude sold the 57 acres on Oct. 12 to Carolina Boulder & Stone LLC for $800,000, according to the Jackson County Register of Deeds office. Vanderwoude refused to comment on the land deal specifics.
“I have sold the property and agreed to not comment about it,” he said in a telephone interview on Monday (Oct. 29).
According to the Register of Deeds office, Vanderwoude purchased this tract of land in January 2006 for $490,000 from Shetland Mountain LLC. The new property owner is L.C. Jones of Franklin in Macon County.