Wednesday, August 30, 2000

Boone commissioners reject mining proposal

By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BURLINGTON — Amid applause and squeals of approval from western Boone County residents, Boone County Fiscal Court on Tuesday rejected a proposal that would have allowed an underground limestone mine.

        The vote was 3-0, with Commissioner Lance Lucas abstaining.

        Officials then initiated a planning resolution that, if approved, could block future bids to locate such mines in the county.

        “As much as I look at this proposal and say it is a nature preserve with a very small 12-acre piece of property (for above ground disturbance) ... there is still nowhere in the comprehensive plan for an area that envisions industrial use and, specifically, I-4 mining (industrial mining),” Commissioner Robert Hay said of the proposal from Hilltop Basic Resources Inc. of Cincinnati.

        Hilltop is the second company to propose limestone mining in western Boone County.

        Both proposals have been rejected.

        Lona Vanhoose of Hebron was one of more than 50 Boone County residents who voiced opposition to the Hilltop proposal at Tuesday's meeting.

        “I appreciate the fact that the commissioners upheld what the voters wanted,” she said.

        Jean Smith, a resident of Treetops, a subdivision off Ky. 237 near the proposed mining site, was ecstatic. “Our property values won't go down,” she said. “We keep our community — our lovely community.”

        The decision shot down an elaborate proposal that Hilltop touted as environmentally sensitive.

        “We must make a statement as a community that we disagree ... with the I-4 (industrial mining) designation,” Mr. Hay said, before introducing a resolution that further surprised residents and nearly a dozen Hilltop officials in attendance.

        The resolution recommends that the county's Planning and Zoning Commission begin looking at repealing the 1997 mandate that requires a planning designation for industrial mining.

        Like Martin Marietta Inc., which has been trying to persuade officials to allow it to locate a limestone mine in the county since 1993, Hilltop could take an appeal to court. Martin Marietta recently lost an appeal in circuit court.

        Hilltop officials attending the meeting appeared stunned as the fiscal court handed down its ruling.

        After Tuesday's decision, John Morgan, project manager for Hilltop's Boone County plan, said he had no idea what would come next.

        “I don't know what our options are,” he said.

        Hilltop had set forth a plan that would have located all operations below ground, with the exception of 12 acres. Unlike Martin Marietta's proposal, Hilltop's plan would have used barges to ship mined limestone along the Ohio River to reduce noise and dust.

        The company had also agreed to donate more than 100 acres for use as a park, create a dispute resolution panel that would hear and help resolve resident complaints because of any property damage that might have resulted from the mining, and pay for “pre-blast surveys” to document the condition of nearby homes to help support any resident complaints.


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