Will Mining Expansion Chip Away At Property Values?

In Wakefield Valley, Residents Wary Of Quarry Plan

November 20, 1991|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff writer

WESTMINSTER — New Windsor resident John B. Farrell asked the question often heard from people who live in Wakefield Valley, where marble is plentiful and mining companies want to dig:

"What will be done to reimburse us for loss of equity?" he asked county planning officials yesterday at a public meeting about a proposed comprehensive mining plan.

Residents are concerned that expanding quarrying operations in the area will devalue their land.

About 50 people attended the afternoon meeting at the County Office Building to ask questions about theplan, which will be voted on by the Board of County Commissioners inlate January or early February.

K. Marlene Conaway, assistant director of the county Department of Planning, said studies have shown that being near a mining operation does not decrease property values.

"Marlene, you sound like a spokesman for the mining people," said Charles C. "Rocky" Hill of New Windsor, who is trying to sell two lots on his land to pay for his daughter's college education.

"You live next to it, it's going to have an effect on your property value," he said.

Conaway and planner Gregg Horner outlined the plan yesterday. A similar meeting is set for 7 p.m. tomorrow at Francis Scott Key High School in Uniontown.

The plan was drawn up over 10 months by a nine-member citizens committee with assistance from the county planning staff. The document will become part of the county master planand will dictate where mining may occur.

The plan is designed to balance the interests of residents and mining companies and minimize the impact of mining on the environment, Conaway said.

The plan designates areas in the Westminster-New Windsor-Union Bridge area whereminerals lie and where development that would pre-empt mining shouldbe prohibited.

Studies have found about 4,000 acres of Wakefield marble with economic value in Carroll. About 1,600 acres could be mined, the plan states.

Formal testimony on the document will be taken at a public hearing next month. Conaway urged residents to read theplan and make comments.

"Dec. 17 is the time to stand up and makea statement. Or write a letter. Letters are very effective," she said.

The hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Key.

Because of complaints from residents at previous public hearings, the plan includes arecommendation that prospective buyers of property within a half-mile of mining areas be notified that mining could occur, Conaway said.

Zoning certificates, preliminary plans, site plans and records plats will be marked to indicate mining in the area, the plan states.

This would not prohibit development, but would warn people that mining operations could be located nearby.

Many residents have complained they bought homes in Wakefield Valley not knowing mining operations were planned nearby. They said they are also concerned about noise, truck traffic, depletion of their water supplies and damage from blasting.

The plan includes a recommendation that a property owner with land designated only for mining be able to recoup his equity by selling his development rights to someone in an area with residential zoning.

The committee is recommending that excavating, blasting, mining, handling and truck loading at a quarry operation be allowed only from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and in emergencies on Sundays.

The report also recommends that mining operations be located 1,000 feet from "a village of historic importance" and 700 feet from residential areas and public places, such as schools, hospitals and churches.

Linwood and Taneytown are on the National Register of Historic Places, and New Windsor has more than 140 historic structures.

Copies of the plan are availableat the county planning office. Information: 857-2145.

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