Dirt mine decision expected this week

MONCKS CORNER -- A four-year fight over a plan to haul truckloads of dirt through a quiet rural neighborhood comes to a head this week.

The Berkeley County Board of Zoning Appeals will decide whether Planning and Zoning Administrator Eric Greenway was right to deny a dirt mine in the Green Bay community in the Huger area of the Francis Marion National Forest.

County zoning does not allow mining operations in that area, but the county allows "borrow pits." The county delayed a decision on this project for so long because of arguments over what a borrow pit is.

Four years ago, property owner Congaree-Carton Limited Partnership brought in O.L. Thompson Construction Co. to dig a pond near Halfway Creek Road and United Drive and haul out the dirt. They called it a borrow pit.

Residents feared the project would send scores of dump trucks daily past their doors, deplete their wells, and ruin their peace and quiet.

Council changed the definition of a borrow pit so the term could not be used for a mining operation. Thompson and Congaree-Carton got a mining permit from the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.

This March, Greenway sent a letter to Thompson saying the operation was a dirt mine and not allowed by zoning.

Thompson and Congaree-Carton appealed. They say they are operating a borrow pit under the original definition and they should be grandfathered in under that definition.

Attorneys are involved on all sides.

The Coastal Conservation League is backing the residents.