Town's Quarry Concerns

Published 4:30 pm Tuesday, May 28, 2013

FARMVILLE – The Virginia Department of Mines and Mineral Resources and Energy will hold a public hearing to address the Town of Farmville's concerns that a proposed granite quarry adjacent to Mottley Lake could negatively impact that body of water.

“A public hearing will be scheduled,” Thomas C. Bibb, Engineering Manager with the department, informed Town Manager Gerald Spates in a May 14 letter, responding to the Town's formal request for the hearing.

Luck Stone Corporation is applying to the department for a permit to operate a granite quarry, with the pit location to be developed on 330 acres of property approximately five miles west of Farmville on US 460.

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The permit process allows nearby landowners to request a public hearing. The Town exercised that right.

Mottley Lake was purchased by the Town as an emergency water supply in case of a severe drought and during an interview with The Herald Spates explained that Town officials have three major concerns:

1) Possible quarry-related water discharge into the river, which could then impact the Town's water treatment plant downstream.

2) Any potential impact on water quality in Mottley Lake, and

3) Any potential impact, through quarry-related blasting, on the water level in Mottley Lake.

Luck Stone Corporation's permit application must undergo “a thorough technical review” by the department, Bibb tells Spates, and the public hearing will be held after that review is complete but prior to issuance of a permit.

No date has been set but Bibb assured the town manager that “we will notify you well in advance of the hearing location, time and date.”

Spates explained during an interview on Friday that the Town wants an official assurance from an expert engineer that the quarry will not have any negative impact on Mottley Lake.

“Mottley Lake is all spring fed. Will that affect the springs? Will it divert the springs to another location? I'd like for somebody to address that and not say, 'Well, it shouldn't.' To say it shouldn't, there's always a possibility that it would,” Spates told The Herald.

Spates believes the quarry site will only be “several hundred yards” from the lake.

“I know with a quarry they have excess water so that water's got to go somewhere. Whether it's going to go towards Mottley Lake or go into the river. And I guess one of those concerns would be how does that affect our water quality at the water treatment plant and is that going to require us to do a different type of treatment.

And nobody's really answered the question, other than saying it shouldn't affect it, but is it going to affect Mottley Lake, the water quality or the water table in Mottley Lake,” the town manager wondered.

“Some of the (Prince Edward County) board of supervisors members said they studied it and they didn't think it would be any effect. But nobody will really come out and tell you,” Spates continued, “and I would like to have an independent engineer look at it and see what the potential possibilities are. I know everybody says it shouldn't affect it but there's always that scenario that it could affect it.”

Speaking directly to the blasting at a quarry, Spates said, “I guess that's council's concern-how is this going to affect the lake with explosions up there and blasting the rock. Is it going to affect the levels in that lake?”

The public hearing, Town officials hope, will directly answer their questions and concerns.

“I think that when we go to the hearing we're going to probably, I would think one thing we'd want to do is get some expert advice on, or even get an expert to testify and ask the right questions. I don't know what questions to ask them,” he admitted. “The only thing we want to make sure is that we protect Mottley Lake.”

The Mottley Lake property, Spates said, is “right butting up to the property in question. It adjoins our property right there.

As for the quarry location's proximity to Mottley Lake, Spates speculates, “I would think you're looking at several hundred yards and I don't know exactly where the quarry will be but I'm assuming they going to use as much of the property as they can…

“…And is some of that water going to be discharged into Mottley Lake and will that affect Mottley Lake?” he asked.

The public hearing was sought to provide answers.

In an April 14 letter to Prince Edward's Board of Supervisors, Land Use & Development Leader for Luck Companies, Benjamin A. Thompson, explains that the application “will facilitate Luck's ability to begin removal of overburden material as soon as possible from the site in preparation for future mining activities. We will be providing (the department) with an official application and suitable operations and drainage plans per our County Use Permit.”

Thompson also pointed out that “as part of this process, we are also required to notify all landowners within 1,000 feet of the proposed permit boundary, any of whom may request a public hearing be held and hosted by the (department). We have received indication that the…permitting process, as standard review, could take as long as 6-8 months before a permit would be issued.”

Luck, Thompson told supervisors, “is extremely excited about our site in Prince Edward and to be part of the community.”