The Gold In These Hills Is Limestone, Shale

County Seeks Citizen Input For Mining Plan

February 03, 1991|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER — There's gold in the hills of Carroll County, but not much. Miners are more likely to find limestone, greenstone or shale.

The county'smineral resources are spread throughout the county, with concentrations of limestone in Wakefield Valley, greenstone in the central area,and shale in the northwest, a county planning report says.

Gold reportedly was found in five areas, including a ridge running from Cranberry Valley to north of Manchester and in copper mines inSykesville, the report says.

The county never has had a comprehensive plan for handling its mineral resources and now is seeking inputfrom a committee of residents to help write a plan.

The 10-membercommittee met for the first time Thursday at the Agriculture Center and heard a report from planning staff members about existing conditions for mining in the county. Six committee members attended.

The planning department, with help from the Maryland Geological Survey inthe state Department of Natural Resources, prepared an 80-page report explaining where mineral resources are, how the land where the resources are is being used and county laws that affect mining.

Two companies are quarrying limestone now and another plans to. Lehigh Portland Cement Co. has a pit in Union Bridge and has plans to build a second one in New Windsor. Genstar Stone Products Co. has two pits in Medford and has plans to expand. The Arundel Corp. owns land adjacentto Genstar's pits and has plans to build a quarry.

In November, the County Commissioners passed a moratorium on development in the Wakefield Valley area for a year or until a mineral mining plan is finished.

Before it begins writing a plan, the committee will meet withrepresentatives from the mining companies and citizens groups. Members also will sponsor two public meetings in March at which residents may hear the planning staff report and express their concerns, said K. Marlene Conaway, planning department bureau chief and committee chairwoman. One meeting will be in the New Windsor-Union Bridge area; the other in South Carroll.

The New Windsor Community Action Program, an area citizens group, has lobbied for three years for a long-range plan for mineral resources and protection of the environment.

All land in the county that contains mineral resources is not protected from uses other than mining. Only land zoned agricultural-extractive, or about 1,730 acres, is protected, the report says.

"The mineral mining plan will be a very serious policy decision in which the county legislative body has to decide which is more overriding -- the wishesand desires of existing non-miner landowners who are using and want to be able to continue to use their land for non-mining purposes or the general public's need to significantly limit the surface use of land so as not to waste the limited natural resources in the county," the report says.

Most of the county's limestone is in the Little PipeCreek watershed, which includes New Windsor, Union Bridge and part of Westminster, the report says. About 4,020 acres of limestone are inthe watershed, as well as about 4,480 residences, it says.

The areaalso includes about 2,747 acres of land which can be used only for agriculture because the landowners have sold development rights to thestate's farmland preservation program, the report says. The committee's next meeting is Feb. 13.

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