Thu07242014

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Caroline Co. panel turns down Vulcan mine request

Amid applause from the audience the Caroline County Planning Commission last week turned down the proposed Vulcan sand and gravel mining operation along the Rappahannock River that had aroused the objections of many King George County residents in the Hopyard and Berry Plains neighborhoods.

The commission tabled a special exception permit to the county’s comprehensive plan and, with a 3-t0-1 vote, then recommended that that the Caroline Board of Supervisors deny  Vulcan Materials Co.’s request for a permit  to the mine sand and some  gravel  on 372 acres of the Black Marsh

Farm in the Skinker’s Neck area of the county.

Commission chairman Pete Davis was the lone vote in support of the permit with members Dr. Milton Bush, Joseph Brown and William Smith voting to deny the exception. Commission member W. Leon Smith was not at the meeting. Earlier Davis had put forth a motion to send the application forward as it “had met” all of the parameters of a good faith effort. But his motion died for lack of a supporting second and was tabled.

 The application permit had drawn a “good faith effort” from the commission staff, according to the county’s planning and community development director, Mike Finchum. He said the permit had met all of the necessary hurdles and noted that it would not “adversely impact” wildlife, water quality, or riverine areas with the exception of future secondary growth in the Haymount area of Skinker’s Neck. Finchum did however also note that certain specific scenic areas of the river would have been affected by the mine as no amount of tree buffering could camouflage the mine’s operation.

Vulcan had proposed materials mined from the operation be barged down the Rappahannock River then up the Potomac to a processing plant in northern Virginia.

Residents of Hopyard and the Berry Plains neighborhoods on the Rappahannock in King George had joined forces with opponents in the Port Royal area of Caroline to vehemently resist the proposed mine. They feared that the operation would be a detriment to both the scenic quality of life they enjoyed on the river as well as lowering property values.

The 541-acre Black Marsh Farm where the mine was to be built is property of Albert Wachtmeister, a citizen of Sweden, who has farmed the acreage as a tree nursery for more than 20 years.

 

Doug Davant

 

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