Board wants more information about proposed sand mine

Published 7:01 pm Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Washington’s Planning Board wants more information before acting on a request to amend the city’s zoning ordinances to allow mining operations in RA-20 (residential-agricultural) districts.

During their meeting Tuesday, board members voiced concerns with mining operations disturbing adjacent residences, increased truck traffic on roads serving the mining site and how long the mine would operate. With a 4-1 vote, the board decided it wants to discuss the request with B.E. Singleton & Sons and its consultant, Harry Bailey, before making a recommendation to the City Council, which as final say on amending the zoning ordinances.

B.E. Singleton & Sons wants to mine sand on a parcel of land on Cherry Lane Road, which is located within the city’s extra-territorial jurisdiction. Roper-based Sly Fox Farm LLC owns the land, which is on the west side of Cherry Lane Road. Fly Fox Farm has no objection to the land being mined for sand.

Board member Jane Alligood questioned if proposed buffer zones would be adequate considering the residential nature of the land around proposed mine site. Board member D. Howell Miller expressed similar concerns.

A 75-foot (minimum) wooded, undisturbed buffer zone with an additional 25-foot unexcavated buffer zone would be maintained along the permit boundaries/property lines, according to a memorandum from Bailey to John Rodman, the city’s director of community and cultural services. The memorandum notes it appears no residential dwellings would be within 150 feet of the proposed excavation area.

Rodman told the board existing zoning laws require a mining operation be at least 300 feet from a residence. Miller, citing the noise that would be creating by mining operations, said he would prefer a buffer, or setback, of at least 1,000 feet.

“What’s the life of the mine?” Miller asked.

“How far down are they going?” Alligood asked, wondering how deep the mining equipment would have to excavate to reach the sand.

Board member Dot Moate, who voted against continuing the matter until the board’s next meeting so it can obtain more information about the mine, doesn’t believe a mining operation in the RA-20 district would be compatible with the district’s residential uses. “It’d be nice to know a little more information, but I can tell you my feeling right now is that because it is residential areas that we’re (potentially) allowing this mine, I feel like no matter what they come in and say — and I don’t like to prejudge — but right now I don’t feel like I can go for approving this in a residential zone,” Moate said. “I don’t know what they can tell me that’s going to make me change my mind.”

The mine would operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and occasionally on Saturdays, according to the memorandum.

The proposed excavation area would be reclaimed as a lake and all adjacent disturbed areas would be properly revegetated, according to the memorandum.

Rodman suggested the board, if it decides to recommend the city allow mining operations in the RA-20 districts, consider requiring a special-use permit be obtained by any entity that wants to initiate mining operations. The city’s Board of Adjustment would decide whether to issue such a permit, and it could include specific conditions with the permit. If those conditions are not met, the permit could be revoked, Rodman noted.


About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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