Lexington county

New quarry stirs worry in Lexington County

tflach@thestate.comNovember 16, 2013 

Vulcan Materials Co. plans to start mining rock midway between Gilbert and Batesburg-Leesville. The 300-acre site is just off U.S. 1 between Old Field and Windmill roads.

— Some residents are mobilizing to fight the opening of a quarry in western Lexington County, saying the mine threatens their tranquil rural area.

“We moved out here for peace and quiet,” Jamie Summers said.. “We’re not going to have that if this happens.”

Summers is among residents upset that Vulcan Materials Co. plans to start mining rock midway between Gilbert and Batesburg-Leesville. The 300-acre site is just off U.S. 1 between Old Field and Windmill roads.

It would be the 15th quarry in South Carolina – and the third in the Columbia area – that Vulcan operates. Others locally are in the Olympia neighborhood in Columbia and northern Richland County.

Homeowners near the new site are upset at the prospect of dust, noise, tremors and extra traffic despite company promises to minimize nuisances.

“We do a lot of things to be a good neighbor and try to avoid being a problem,” said Roger Dunlap of Greenville, company vice-president and general manager for South Carolina. “We plan to not only meet requirements but go beyond them.”

That promise doesn’t appease opponents of the project.

“People move out there for quiet and this would strip it away,” Batesburg-Leesville Mayor Rita Crapps said. “It would disrupt their way of life.”

Other community leaders know the project is unsettling for nearby residents..

County Councilman Frank Townsend of Batesburg-Leesville, who has worked in quarries, says the operations usually are well-run but their presence often disturbs those living around them.

“People next door don’t want it,” Townsend said of Vulcan’s plan. “But it’s going to be hard to stop.”

The new quarry will take up to three years to open and will start slowly producing stone used mainly in asphalt and concrete, Dunlap said.

Vulcan is “in the front end” of developing the site, he said.

Production there will expand as operations at the 123-year-old quarry in Olympia winds down over the next two decades as long planned, he said.

As a military engineer familiar with explosives, Summers is wary that a quarry can fit in virtually unnoticed except for trucks coming and going to it.

He’s also apprehensive that it will bring back the “too busy” atmosphere that led his family to move away from Lake Murray in 2007 and build their home on what was long-held family farm land.

Summers has extra motivation to battle the project, fearing dust from it will aggravate the allergies and asthma of his three children.

“I’m going to fight this as hard as I can,” he vowed.

Reach Flach at (803) 771-8483.

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