An attorney and experts backing developer Kingdon Gould's plan to quarry rock at a Jessup site used the last night of testimony on the project this week to try to discredit their opponents' concerns about traffic, protection of the environment and residents' safety.
Wednesday night concluded nine months of testimony before the Howard County Board of Appeals. The board will hear closing arguments from the two sides and receive written reports before making its decision -- which is not expected before the end of October.
Gould's experts argued that the 546-acre wooded site -- sitting east of Interstate 95, west of U.S. 1 and south of Route 175 -- is the most suitable location for the mining operation.
But opponents say the proposed site is too close to residences, will increase traffic problems on the already busy U.S. 1 corridor and hurt sensitive wetlands. For about two months, a group of residents have argued their case against the project.
Much of the testimony by Gould's experts focused on concerns about wetlands in the area.
jTC Among those testifying was Gordon M. Matheson of Schnabel Engineering Associates, who said the quarry would pose minimal threat to the environment.
Matheson said some water from a stream on the property would be diverted into the quarry pit, but he said it would be so insignificant that it would not damage the wetlands.
"There will be some stream depletion as a result of the quarry operation," Matheson said. But the amount of water left in the stream "still provides you more than enough water for the ecological health of the stream."
As if in disbelief, David A. Carney, an attorney for the opponents, questioned Matheson: "Do I understand from your testimony that you feel there would not be any adverse effects to the wetlands?"
4 "Generally, that's correct," Matheson responded.
Gould's experts then showed that several of the undeveloped properties around the quarry site were designed for industrial uses or the new town zoning on which Columbia was built. So there would be little threat to future development, they said.
They also said that study of the area has shown that fully loaded trucks will have sufficient stopping distances along U.S. 1 to avoid accidents and some of the opponents' traffic concerns.
Gould wants to mine a crystalline rock, called Baltimore gabbro. Gabbro often is used in road construction because of its hardness and fine texture. He has promised Jessup residents a community center and parkland with a lake if the quarry is approved.
In addition, a community association he formed would received a minimum of $50,000 a year from the quarry operation.
North Laurel: 10100 block of U.S. 1: The door to the Valencia Motel's storage room was kicked open Wednesday, but nothing was taken or disturbed.