WINNSBORO — Residents from the Rockton Thruway area (District 7) spoke out against the development of a mining company during the public comments portion of Monday’s Fairfield County Council meeting.
The company named Winnsboro Crushed Stone has applied to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) for a permit to mine granite in South Carolina and specifically at a site in Fairfield County.
The proposed site is located at the southeast end of Rockton Thruway, which is approximately four miles southeast of Winnsboro and 2.2 miles away from the intersection of U.S. 321 and S.C. 34.
Dorthy Brandenburg, a resident of District 7, addressed the concerns of residents in the immediate area of the proposed granite quarry operation. She presented a petition to demonstrate the opposition of local residents from the Rockton Thruway area.
She also requested a show of hands from residents in council chambers opposing the quarry and a vast majority accommodated her by raising their hands.
Brandenburg noted there are similar petitions in other areas like Middle Six and Golf Course Road to show opposition as well.
As a second point, she reminded council that the proposed quarry is in an area that is zoned as residential.
“The residents in the area wish for that property to not be re-zoned,” Brandenburg stated.
For more information, she held a community meeting for a question and answer session on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at a residence on Rockton Thruway.
Brandenburg encouraged citizens to send their inquiries about the opposition to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lisa Brandenburg, also from District 7, stated it only took two days to acquire 100 signatures opposing the quarry.
“The names on our petition will allow us to petition to DHEC to say we want an open hearing and nothing done behind closed doors,” she told council. “They will have to shut this down is they can’t get the zoning change then that would be the end of the quarry. Because if any residents have a problem against it and we have the names saying we have a problem against it and we don’t want anything changed.”
From a state perspective DHEC does not inquire about zoning because it is considered to be a local matter, however L. Brandenburg noted that the property is zoned as residential and said she expects the property to remain residential.
“It (mining) will affect every member of this community if this quarry is allowed to go in,” she said. “We are a very quiet and tight knit community. We expect council to support these families that will be affected and not allow this quarry.”
Lisa Brandenburg advised council that there is historical property in the area as well as endangered species and that the water table is already low.
She insisted the group would consult an environmental engineer and take the issue as far as they have to to prevent mining.
“We’re not backing up and we’re not backing down,” she stated. “Fifty years is a long time for us to have to live with this disruption to our life.”
Billy Smith of District 7 asked for more information about the proposed quarry and suggested a public hearing to discuss the matter.
Smith also requested the LLC starting the quarry provide a presentation to council to explain the logistics of creating the quarry and the disposal of any contaminants.
Interim County Administrator Milton Pope addressed the mining application during his report.
“One of the things that I want to make explicitly clear is that the county was notified on May 7 and there have been absolutely no other communications with the county about this mining application,” he said.
DHEC forwarded the information to county administration and Pope sent it out to council that same afternoon.
Pope stated the the county has not had any communication with Winnsboro Crushed Stone to begin mining.
“There has been absolutely and unequivocally no communication with the county on this matter,” he said.
A public hearing could be initiated by either 10 citizens who have concerns or through the request of the local government.
Pope strongly encouraged Chairman David Ferguson to direct his office to send a letter to DHEC for the request of a public hearing on the matter.
Council heeded Pope’s recommendation and a motion was unanimously passed for county administration to send a letter to DHEC requesting a public hearing.
If the project passes, Winnsboro Crushed Stone plans to restore the area to ponds, grasslands and woodlands after mining.
Comments or inquiries about the application should be sent to the attention of Joe Koon, SCDHEC, Division of Mining and Solid Waste Management, 2600 Bull Street, Columbia, South Carolina, 29201. You can also reach him by phone at 803-898-1371.
Comments must be received by SCDHEC before 5 p.m. June 2
For more information, click the DHEC Mining Application link on the county’s website at www.fairfieldsc.com.