Residents Denounce Mining Plan

'Not In My Backyard,' Homeowners Tellboard

February 26, 1992|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff writer

Wakefield Valley residents stood up last week and told the county commissioners they're proud to be NIMBYs.

A NIMBY in their neighborhood means somebody who doesn't want to live near a limestone quarry. "Not in My Back Yard," they said, loud and clear as they waved signs at a public hearing on a proposed mining plan.

One of the residents' biggest concerns is that their property values are dropping because, they say, they are near a quarry. The residents overwhelmingly oppose the mining plan because they say it robs them of their property rights. The plan would make mining a permitted use in certain areas of the valley and create a mining zone where land uses would be limited primarily to mining and agriculture.

It's a hard thing to determine, but county planners and some members of the citizens committee that drafted the mining plan say values in the area are unaffected by mining. And sales records at the State of Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation in Westminster show that homes in the area still are selling and are bringing higher prices than they did in the past several years.

But try telling that to Carole Richard, who lives in the 1400 block of Wakefield Valley Road in a2,400-square-foot rancher on 2.7 acres that has been on the market three times in the last three or four years. "Not one bid," she said.

She and her husband, Randall, moved from the Finksburg area six years ago to escape congestion, she said. They built the home on Wakefield Valley Road themselves, and last year, their bank appraised it at$235,000.

They want to move now because the home will be close toquarries operated by Genstar Stone Products Co. and The Arundel Corp., she said. But they can't sell it and have lowered the price from $235,000 to $210,000.

"Do you want me to give it away?" she asked the commissioners last week.

Residents are worried about damage to their homes from blasting at the quarries, the possibilities of wellsdrying up and increased noise and truck traffic.

Larry C. White, supervisor of Carroll's state assessment office, said several areas of the county were reassessed last year for the 1992 tax bill. Assessments in New Windsor, Taylorsville, Mount Airy, Woodbine and Sykesville rose 28 percent from the last assessment three years ago, he said.

A breakdown of the increase in the New Windsor area is not available, he noted. White gave a few examples of property that has sold near quarry areas:

* A rancher on 1.1 acre in the 2400 block of Bowersox Road sold in January 1983 for $67,000 and in June 1991 for $115,000.

* A 2.7-acre vacant lot in the 2000 block of Brick Church Roadsold for $20,000 in November 1978 and in March 1989 for $51,000.

* A rancher on 2.2 acres in the 2200 block of Bowersox Road sold in December 1989 for $70,000 and in August 1990 for $104,900.

Georgia Hoff, a Realtor and member of the citizens group that wrote the mining plan, said she researched the issue a year ago when the committee began its work. She compared sales of similar homes in Wakefield Valley and other areas of the county.

"I couldn't find where being neara quarry made any difference at all," said Hoff, of New Windsor, blaming the recession for slow home sales.

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