In the middle of Genstar Stone Products Inc.'s 800-acre mining operation outside Westminster sits a small parcel that poses a big problemfor the company.
Though the 3.5-acre tract lies nearly smack in the center of Genstar's operation, it is all but unusable by the company.
So Genstar appeared before the county Board of Zoning Appeals on Wednesday to ask for help.
The mining company wants to mine limestone on the tract but said it needs a conditional-use permit and a setback waiver to do so.
On Oct. 9, the county closed Old Medford Road, which traversed the company's property and separated the 3.5-acre tract from Pit No. 1, Genstar's primary limestone mining pit.
Ownership of the road reverts to the company because the county abandonedthe road.
Also, the zoning for the tract reverts to an industrialclassification that does not allow mining operations.
That's why the company needs the conditional-use variance to begin digging for limestone.
But Genstar also wants an exemption from a zoning requirement that calls for a mining operation to be set back at least 200 feet from the nearest property line.
A 200-foot setback on the small, squarish parcel would leave little room on it for mining, the company said.
"Without the setback waiver, you probably could only drill a well in the middle of the property," said Charles O. Fisher Sr.,a Westminster attorney who's representing Genstar. "It's too small aparcel."
The request left board chairman John Totura a little puzzled, because the company owns all the property surrounding the smalltract.
"I'm wondering why you have to come here for a waiver of setback from your own property," Totura said.
Fisher said the 800 acres the company owns are made up of nine parcels Genstar acquired inpiecemeal fashion over the years. The company has never consolidatedthe land deeds, leaving county tax maps showing a patchwork of tracts owned by Genstar.
Because there is a property line surrounding the tract, it is necessary to request the setback waiver, Fisher said.
"(The county zoning ordinance) says a 200-foot setback from the property line, not from other people's property line," Fisher said.
The company wants to extend mining operations from Pit No. 1 to the smaller parcel, said John T. Gease III, technical director for Genstar.
"We've (test-) drilled the property and there are significant reserves of limestone," he said.
Extending mining to the parcel from adjacent Pit No. 2 instead of Pit No. 1 would require the relocation of a stream on the property, which the company wants to avoid doing, Gease said.
No one attended Wednesday's hearing to oppose Genstar's request. Totura said the board's decision on the company's request will be issued soon.