Wednesday, July 26, 2000

Mine proposal still a concern

Despite concessions, Boone residents worry about lifestyle, property values

By Reid Forgrave
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BURLINGTON — The Boone County Fiscal Court met Tuesday to discuss the most likely limestone-mine proposal for the northwest corner of the county, but not all the local residents were buying it.

        Despite what county commissioners saw as many concessions being made by Hilltop Basic Resources to assuage residents' concerns about property values and lifestyle-related concerns, Peggy Taylor said she still doesn't want the underground mine in her neighborhood.

        “Regardless of what they say, if the mine is there, it will lower property values,” said Mrs. Taylor, who lives about a mile from the proposed mine site, off the Petersburg exit from Interstate 275.

        For example, she said, the mining company's proposal to eliminate all airborne dust does not appear to be feasible. She said she fears that lime dust will get in her cistern and damage her plumbing and her health.

        Residents have rallied to keep mines out of Boone County since Martin Marietta first proposed them in 1993.

        “Dust blows in the wind, and it settles. You can't eliminate dust. Do you want to have lime scum on your pond?” Mrs. Taylor said.

        The Boone County Fiscal Court heard a different side of the story as members listened to director of zoning services Kevin Wall's recommendation. He said Hilltop is going out of its way to keep a mine as unimposing as possible.

        Mr. Wall addressed nearly two dozen concerns in his recommen dation to the court. For instance, Hilltop would blast during a two-hour window during weekdays when people are least likely to be at home. The company also would use barges to transport materials, meaning little truck traffic coming out of the mine.

        Many methods would be used to control noise, Mr. Wall added.

        “In many cases, they are going further than they are required to by law,” said county Judge-executive Gary Moore, who has one of the three votes to decide on the proposal, probably next month. “It seems they'll be a good neighbor.”

        Mr. Moore pointed out that if this proposal is approved and a mine developed, there would be 500 acres of preserved green space that would not be developed and could be used for parks and recreation.

        In October, the Boone County Fiscal Court denied Martin Marietta's three mining proposals, saying they did not fit with the coun ty's comprehensive plan, a document that guides land use.

        No information is available on whether sub-surface mining like the Hilltop proposal devalues surrounding property, Mr. Wall said.

        Nevertheless, some residents fear that it will.

        “This belongs in the woods, far away from people,” said Jean Smith, who lives in Treetops, a development off Ky. 237 where some homes are worth $300,000. “Would you want to live here?”

        Kristina Goetz contributed to this report.


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