Neighbors stand firm against quarry operations at Carter County Highway Committee meeting

John Thompson • Mar 12, 2013 at 9:07 AM

ELIZABETHTON — Although there has been no announcement by Aggregates USA to resume operations in a quarry that has stood idle for many years, residents around Judge Ben Allen Road made their opposition known during the meeting of the Highway Committee of the Carter County Commission on Monday.

Highway Committee Vice Chairman Joel Street said Jim McGill of Aggregates USA had been scheduled to speak to the committee Monday, but he has rescheduled to next month’s meeting.

Street allowed the neighbors who came to Monday’s meeting to speak. They were unanimously opposed to reopening the quarry.

Bill Hicks of Keenburg said there were some caves nearby that could be destroyed by blasting. He said there were bats in the cave that may belong to an endangered species. Hicks quoted from scriptures in the Bible to preserve a neighbor’s landmarks.

Daniel Moore said he had three concerns. His first concern was the safety of the road if dump trucks start using it again. He said children would no longer be able to ride their bicycles on the road if the dump trucks were hauling from the quarry.

His second concern was air quality. He said the neighborhood would be covered in dust and dirt if blasting and grading were restarted.

His final concern was with storm water runoff.

Sandra White said she lived through the last time the quarry was open. She said there was a constant growling sound, punctuated by blasting. She said traffic was very heavy, causing safety concerns for children and animals. She said many neighbors also suffered cracks to foundations and swimming pools.

Mike Verbonitz said the operations at the quarry stopped the last time as a result of a lawsuit settlement. He said the settlement does include steps the company must do in order to restart operations. Verbonitz also said if operations were restarted, property values would suffer.

Rose Lacata said she decided to retire to Elizabethton and she has placed her lifetime of savings and investments into her home. She said the reopening of the quarry would “ruin everything I saved for my whole life.”

While the company has not announced any plans to reopen the quarry, the neighbors became concerned when they saw a survey crew and suspected the road was going to be widened to better handle traffic for the quarry. The neighbors learned during last month’s meeting that the survey crew was not working for the Highway Department.

The committee’s secretary, Charles Von Cannon, said he had to resign the office because he could not hear the comments. The committee then elected Bobbie Dietz as the new secretary.

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