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Planning Board to revisit request to allow mining in city’s RA-20 zoned areas

Washington’s Planning Board, during its meeting today, could decide whether to recommend that the City Council amend the city’s zoning ordinances to allow mining operations in RA-20 (residential-agricultural) districts.

During its March meeting, 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 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.

During their March meeting Tuesday, board members voiced concerns with mining operations disturbing adjacent residences, increased truck traffic on roads serving the mining site, buffer zones and how long the mine would operate.

Charles E. Manning III, president of B.E. Singleton & Sons, plans to attend Tuesday’s meeting along with Jimmy Morris, owner of the property. Manning plans to address the board’s concerns and provide it with more information about the proposed sand mine.

Although a memorandum from Harry Bailey, a consultant for B.E. Singleton & Sons, to city officials mentioned a quarry on the property, which is not the case, Manning said. The proposed sand mine won’t have activities often associated with quarries, he noted.

“There’ll be no blasting. There’ll be no pumping of water, so adjacent wells will not be affected,” Manning said during an interview Friday.

The mine could operate from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, according to Manning.

“The typical operations are 7:30 (a.m.) to 5 (p.m.) Monday through Friday; that’s what is typical,” Manning said, adding that factors such as weather and demand for sand could result in variances in operation hours.

“The average annual sand out of a mine like this would be 30,000 cubic yards. A heavy day of hauling would be a hundred truckloads of sand, which, if you break that down into a 10-hour day, would be 10 truckloads an hour, or every six minutes,” Manning said. “From a traffic engineering standpoint, that amount of traffic is negligible.”

A typical day of hauling sand, based on activities at other sand mines in and around Washington, would be about 25 to 30 loads a day, which represents a truckload leaving a sand mine about every 20 to 24 minutes, according to Manning. Some days there will be no activities at the sand mine, he said.

“It’s not a super busy mine we’re proposing, but I can also see where people would be concerned,” Manning said. “The flip side is that if we were to land a large project that would utilize a lot of sand out of that mine, it would mean the life of the mine would be shorter.”

At the March meeting, 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.

“We are proposing, adjacent to the neighborhood in the back, a 100-foot buffer from excavation, 75 (feet) of which is wooded and undisturbed … That buffer is actually more stringent than the buffer that Pitt County utilizes, which is a very strict buffer. They require a 100-foot buffer, 50 (feet) of which is undisturbed. We’re saying we’ll do a 100-foot buffer, 75 feet undisturbed and wooded.”

Manning said he will explain the excavation process to the board. “All slopes on the side of the excavation will be 3-to-1, 3 feet horizontal to 1 foot vertical, which is a slope that can be walked up and down comfortably. It can also be mowed with a standard push mower, riding mower or tractor,” he said.

Should the sand mine later become a pond, those slope dimensions make it easy for children who may enter the pond to get out of it, Manning said. Because of the type of sand at the proposed mine site, any pond that follows the mine would have pristine water because the sand serves as a filter, he said. “If you go look at any of our other sand pits, the water quality is beautiful,” Manning said.

At the board’s March meeting, John Rodman, the city’s director of community and cultural services, 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.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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