Archive for Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Quarry creating rocky relations

Neighboring family says county should regulate operations

December 1, 2004

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The Coffman family is used to being near a rock quarry.

Their farming operation has been near what is now the Hunt Midwest Globe Quarry, which is on County Road 1029 south of U.S. Highway 56, for decades.

"We understand the need for the quarry and the need for the production of rocks for highways and roadways," said Gerry Coffman, who has been living on the farm for two years.

But lately, Gerry Coffman and her siblings -- Hurst and Martha -- have become disenchanted with the Globe Quarry, which is across the street from their family farm.

As a result, the Coffman family is asking Douglas County commissioners to regulate all quarries in the county through a home-rule resolution. The proposed regulations deal with public health and safety and address issues like air quality, fencing, operation times and blasting.

Commissioners will consider the matter at 6:35 p.m. tonight when they meet at the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Mass.

The issue came as a surprise to Tim Spears, a senior superintendent for Hunt Midwest. Spears said he had no knowledge about the proposed regulations or that there were any problems.

"We receive some complaints, but we try to remedy the problem immediately," Spears said.

Located near the Douglas County and Franklin County line, the Hunt Midwest Globe Quarry produces limestone used for concrete rock, county road rock and asphalt stone.

County zoning regulations don't apply to the Globe Quarry because it was in operation before the county commission adopted zoning regulations in the late 1960s.

Hurst and Gerry Coffman said they had found large rocks on their family farm that they believed shot over the road onto their property from the quarry. They have concerns that this could happen while a person is driving on roads surrounding the quarry.

Spears said he was not aware of that type of situation happening when they were blasting at the quarry.

Commissioner Jere McElhaney said he was reviewing material regarding the proposed regulations. He said he understood the Coffman family's concern but said that there were guidelines in place for quarry operations.

"They do play an important role in our communities, but, like anything else, we need to keep an eye on it," he said.

Commission Chairman Charles Jones said the commission periodically dealt with complaints regarding quarries.

"You'd always rather see a cooperative nonregulatory fix to problems," he said. "There are two truths here -- the area is becoming more urbanized and if things don't get worked out between neighbors they will come to us. This may be a situation where they may have exhausted all their possibilities."

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