UNIONTOWN — After listening to a presentation from county planners about the status of mineral resources and mining operations, John B. Farrell of New Windsor said it seemed the county's primary concern was protecting mineral resources.
"Protection of our property appears to be secondary," he said.
Farrell was one of about 90 people who attended a public hearing last night to express concern about mining in the county.
The hearing was sponsored by the county's mineral mining committee, which wasappointed by the county Planning Commission in January. The committee is collecting information for a plan it will write to advise the county about how land around areas where mineral resources exist shouldbe used.
The committee is seeking a balance between mining company interests and quality-of-life concerns of those who live near quarries.
The 10-member citizens committee has been meeting since February. It will sponsor a second public hearing at 7:30 tonight at the Eldersburg branch of the Carroll County Public Library.
Valuable limestone deposits are concentrated in northwest Carroll in Wakefield Valley. One company is mining there now, and two others plan to follow.
Lehigh Portland Cement Co. has a pit in Union Bridge and has plans to dig a second one in New Windsor. Genstar Stone Products Co. hastwo pits in Medford and has plans for a third. The Arundel Corp. owns land adjacent to Genstar's pits and wants to build a quarry.
Greenstone, shale, and even gold can be found in the county.
In November, the County Commissioners passed a moratorium on development in the Wakefield Valley area for a year or until the mining plan is completed.
Stanley Jett of New Windsor said he lives close to where Genstar plans its third pit. He said his house shakes now from blasting in the second pit and asked how close quarries can be to residences.
K. Marlene Conaway, assistant director of the county Planning Department, said the state has a setback requirement of 1,000 feet.
Jett also said he is bothered by noise from the quarries on Saturdays.
Catherine Wall of New Windsor said blasts from Genstar quarries have "rattled my sliding glass door."
"The blasts have gotten harderand harder," she said.
Wall expressed concern that if Arundel digs its pit, blasting will occur often every day.
Laura Decker of New Windsor said some people have wondered why people moved to an area where there is quarrying.
Most new residents didn't know about thequarries, either because they weren't told, were misinformed or didn't know enough to ask, she said.
"I don't think there is such a peaceful thing as coexistence," Decker said.
"The quarry needs to berecalled. There's a problem with it. Let's fix it."
Warren C. Shirey, who lives near Lehigh in Union Bridge, said windows, china and "good glasses" have been broken as a result of blasts in the quarry.
"We have a daily fear of water loss," he said.
Carol Collins of New Windsor said the county gave permission for homes to be built in the area.
"We think the county should issue us the freedom from the mess we have," she said. "People take precedence over some rock in the ground."
Her husband, Alan Collins, said the couple believed the rolling fields behind their home were zoned agriculture and would remain so or would be developed into country estates.
Committee members will meet next Wednesday at the Agriculture Center in Westminster to discuss the concerns raised at the two hearings.
The committee also has met with representatives from the three mining companies and from the New Windsor Community Action Project, a citizens group active on this issue.