Blasting has begun at the 220-acre Daurity Springs Quarry, located just south of the Goldston’s town limits with an entrance on Main Street. Nine Goldston residents, including Goldston Mayor Tim Cunnup and Rep. Robert Reives II, provided input and voiced concerns to the commissioners during the hearing.
Blasting has begun at the 220-acre Daurity Springs Quarry, located just south of the Goldston’s town limits with an entrance on Main Street.
“There was a terrible explosion that rattled and shook my house, sending me out the back porch, thinking Goldston was experiencing an earthquake,” Marian Norton, who lives nearby, told the Chatham County Board of Commissioners at a public hearing on Dec. 17.
“Once outside, I could see a cloud of dust just behind the tree line,” she said, adding that residents had no warning before blasting commenced.
Norton and eight other Goldston residents, including Goldston Mayor Tim Cunnup and Rep. Robert Reives II, provided input and voiced concerns to the commissioners during the hearing.
Daurity Springs Quarry requested the zoning for the property be changed to heavy industrial from the residential designation it received during county-wide zoning in 2016, triggering the public hearing.
Because the company applied for and received a mining permit from N.C. Dept. of Environmental Quality (N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, at the time) in 2014 when the land was not zoned, the county cannot interfere with the mining process, according to Chatham County Planning Director Jason Sullivan.
Residents speaking at the hearing, while aware of the limitations placed on the board by the state’s rules, voiced opposition to the zoning request as well as raised concerns about the effect the mining would have on the town and its residents.
“The Town of Goldston is looking for a good neighbor from this business,” Cunnup wrote in a statement read into the record by Chatham County Clerk of Court Lindsay Ray.
“What we do not want it to bring is noise, cracked foundations, water quality for people with wells, dust and a multitude of dump trucks through Town. So, with that being said as we move forward with our new neighbor, these words need to be recognized as something we mean.”
Goldston resident and Army veteran James Womack also spoke of the effect the blasting had on him.
“Later [last week], there was a single blast and I hit the deck,” Womack said. “I was in artillery, when you hear the blasts, you hit the deck, and I got out of the army 50 years ago.”
Residents repeated concerns about the possible damage to their homes and foundations as a result of the blasting.
The Daurity Spring Quarry is right behind Goldston resident Primrose Sutton’s home.
“My whole house shakes,” Sutton said. “My question is if I have house damage, who is going to be responsible to pay for that?”
Other residents voiced concerns about the quality of their well water due to the blasting and subsequent excavation at the quarry.
“I’m sure my water will be affected by this,” Goldston resident Kenneth McIntosh said. “How am I protected with the well water that I have?”
Concerns were also raised about the stability of the town’s water and sewer infrastructure which was installed less than five years ago because of the blasting.
“With all the work the town and county have done over the last decade implementing our infrastructure with the hopes of growth, the last thing we want is to not be able to attract other good prospects in the form of business and residents to our town,” Cunnup said. “My question to you is if there are problems as stated above is there an authority that will hear us and help bring things into compliance?”
Commissioners, while appearing sympathetic to residents’ concerns, had few answers for them. The quarry’s mining activities are regulated by the state, not the county. The board did ask numerous questions in considering the zoning options, future implications, and requests for information from the county staff to be sent and deliberated by the county’s planning board as is the process in zoning requests.
Commissioner Jim Crawford asked whether the mining operation would be able to expand from the five properties it currently holds.
“With residential zoning on the adjoining properties with the exception of Goldston which is un-zoned, the mining operation could not expand to the adjoining properties,” Sullivan said.
Several commissioners asked whether the county’s rules on setbacks, erosion controls and other environmental concerns could be triggered by the zoning decision. Sullivan reiterated that the state’s permit overrides any of the county’s regulations.
Commissioner Diana Hales asked staff to research if the property’s transfer in August, which had its present use as agriculture, might affect the county’s ability to intervene.
The board also asked Sullivan to thoroughly review the permit and discuss options with the state’s Division of Mining. The board is seeking any “local wiggle room,” Hales said, especially in consideration of residents located near the quarry.
“Is there any responsibility on the part of the mining owner in terms of reparations for bills, damaged foundations?” Hales asked of Sullivan.
Commission Chairman Mike Dasher also asked the staff to look into the possibility of a noise or nuisance complaint citing the recent hog farm nuisance cases in Eastern North Carolina.
The next Chatham County Planning Board meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 8, but there is no confirmation that the matter will be on the agenda for that meeting. The meeting will be in the old Agriculture Building at 65 E. Chatham Street in Pittsboro.