Developer Kingdon Gould Jr. has proposed a $15 million quarry operation for 100 acres in eastern Howard County.
The proposal is "in the very preliminary stages, and we are meeting with the community to seek its support," he said yesterday. "Without substantial community support, the project is a non-starter."
He said the site, the 600-acre Chase property, which he owns, is zoned for industrial-type development.
"There is a unique deposit of Baltimore gabbro on the property, and I am told by the state that it is the only such deposit in Maryland," Gould said.
He said gabbro -- a dark, heavy, igneous rock -- is asbestos-free and highly skidresistant, making it good for aggregate for roadways and lining for waterways and railroad beds.
The proposed quarrying operation would employ 350 people and last 15 to 25 years. An access road to the quarry would be built off U.S. 1, Gould said.
"We will have to show that the environmental issues involving water and air quality, noise,light and impact on flora and fauna can be met" to get state permitsfor the project, Gould said.
He said Laurel Sand and Gravel, in which he has a financial interest, has a similar quarry project just south of Laurel off Interstate 95.
Under the proposal for the Chaseproperty, Gould said the quarry would be buffered by "substantial open space." The propertyonce was considered for a Marriott Great America theme park, but that project did not receive county zoning approval.
Gould said the neighborhood of the Chase property is bounded byold Route 32, I-95, Route 175 and U.S. 1 -- an area just southeast of Columbia.
Gould said he intends to develop a "concrete plan" aimed at providing benefits for neighboring property owners, adding thatsome of the profits from the quarry venture could be put to community use for "educational support or amenities," such as a community center, parks and pools.
Councilman C. Vernon Gray, D-3rd, who learned of the proposal from Gould, said, "I support whatever is in the best interest of the community and benefits the people in the area."
"We are just in thinking stage after one brief meeting with Mr. Gouldand Councilman Gray," said Thomasinea Johnson, president of the Cedar-Villa Heights Community Association. "They took us by surprise. I know we are concerned about it, but we don't know anything about the production, the health effects and the traffic impact, and we have a lot of things to learn before we pass any judgment about it."
Gray said local residents expressed concern about traffic, noise and the environmental impact of a quarry operation at a recent meeting with Gould.
Nancy Davis, an executive board member of the Howard County chapter of the Sierra Club, said she had not heard about the quarry proposal, but the group wants to know how it would affect the environment.