Rezoning meetings

All meetings are held in the Assembly Room at the Berkeley County Administration Building, 1003 Highway 52, Moncks Corner.

Date Time Governing Body Action Public Input

July 23 6 p.m. Planning Commission Recommendation Yes

Aug. 12 6:30 p.m. Land Use Committee (Council) Recommendation and first reading No

Aug. 26 6:30 p.m. Council First reading Yes

Sept. 9 6:30 p.m. Land Use Committee Recommendation and second reading No

Sept. 23 6:30 p.m. Council Second reading Yes

Oct. 14 6:30 p.m. Land Use Committee Recommendation and third reading No

Oct. 28 6:30 p.m. Council Public hearing and third reading Yes

Contact: Eric Greenway, Berkeley County Planning Director at egreenway@berkeleycountysc.gov.

Note: Dates are subject to change based upon previous actions by appointed or elected bodies.

Jamestown resident Donna Shuler-Rodin didn’t want to speak out, but now she says she doesn’t have a choice.

If you go

What: Berkeley County Planning Commission meeting

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday

Where: The Assembly Room, 1003 Highway 52, Moncks Corner

Note: Sign-up sheets will be outside the meeting room prior to the meeting if you would like to speak.

Contact: The Berkeley County Planning Commission at 719-4095

Shuler-Rodin has lived in the small, Berkeley County town most of her life, and her mother owns more than 300 acres there. Shuler-Rodin and other residents are afraid that an expansion of a mining operation would harm their community.

Martin Marietta Materials Real Estate Investments Inc. and Martin Marietta Materials Inc. have filed a petition to rezone about 395 acres of their property from an agricultural district to a heavy industrial district.

Martin Marietta is the nation’s second-largest producer of construction aggregates used mostly for making highways and other infrastructure projects. Its headquarters is in Raleigh, and its Jamestown location mines limestone.

The Jamestown plant can expand only if Berkeley County Council approves the rezoning request, because mining can occur only in a heavy industrial zone.

The property in question borders the current mining site, which is in the Francis Marion National Forest and was purchased by the company about a year ago with the intention to expand. Martin Marietta officials said their reason for expanding is to access quality limestone used by entities such as the Department of Transportation to make concrete and asphalt.

Plant Manager Handsome Major said the plant uses a technique called wet-mining that uses natural ground water levels. They do not pump water and discharge it off the property like the dry-mining technique.

“Dry mining affects the community more because we’re moving water. That would cause sink holes. We haven’t done that since 1990,” Major said. He has been plant manager since 1989, and said that in 1996 Martin Marietta acquired the quarry from the previous owners.

A community speaks

L.K. Snider, a retired principal, has lived in Jamestown all his life. His church, New Mount Zion AME, is right across Highway 45 from Quarry Road, where Martin Marietta is located. He said the church has had sinkholes and other damage to its property in the past when the previous owners mined. The church received compensation for the damages.

Shuler-Rodin said her family filed suit for similar damages, and they received compensation in a settlement.

Snider said he believes things have improved since Martin Marietta took over. The church had concerns about the appearance of the plant entrance right in front of them, and the company made those improvements by paving the road and adding shrubbery and grass. Snider said that when the church has a burial in the cemetery, it calls Major and he holds the trucks until the service is over.

“They made an about-face in the community,” Snider said.

He and his wife were part of the crowd of residents who attended a community meeting Thursday hosted by Martin Marietta and the Berkeley County Planning Commission. The company gave tours of the property before Berkeley County Planning Director Eric Greenway and Martin Marietta spokesperson Paxton Badham explained the expansion and answered questions.

Snider said he received a letter in the mail about two months ago and one recently with details about the meeting.

Residents expressed such concerns as more trucks being on the road, more noise, and more blasts from the mining.

“You can feel it when they blast,” said 35-year resident Barbara Overstreet. Her home is less than a mile from the plant. “So far we have no major damages. I do have a crack above my door. I have a well in my yard ... and it’s not pumping anymore.” Overstreet said she believes this is caused by the blasting, but the company disagrees.

Major and Greenway said the community meeting was the first time they had heard many of these concerns.

“When we make a recommendation (to the council) we do that somewhat in a vacuum with one or two days to do research. Those folks that live out there are in a better situation to let us know how this impacts them on a daily basis,” Greenway said.

Company officials said they will bring a seismograph to a resident’s property if they have a concern about the blasts damaging their property. Major said they also record each blast and can play them back to assess any abnormalities.

The decision

The Planning Commission had discussed the rezoning at a previous meeting. Overstreet spoke at that meeting and Shuler-Rodin attended. They said they found out about the meeting at the last minute, and only two representatives were allowed to voice their concerns. Greenway asked that in the future the community should select representatives for each issue, instead of repeating the same thing.

Greenway said the rezoning request came to him in May and a decision could be made in October, depending on the actions of county officials.

Badham told the community at the meeting last week that if they cannot expand, the plant still plans to operate there for at least another 10 years.

A Land Use Committee staff summary prepared by Greenway stated that if the rezoning request is denied, that denial may “have an long term negative impact on the supply of products to other individuals and industries therefore creating higher costs of doing business or creating the need for other mines in areas that may not be as suitable as this site.” But many residents do not agree.

To Shuler-Rodin, the question of rezoning concerns more than just a mine down a dusty road they pass by every day in their small town.

“You’re talking about our homes,” she said. “I feel like the community needs more time.”

Reach Jade McDuffie at 937-5560 or jmcduffie@postandcourier.com.