Friday, January 14, 2000

Boone gets another proposal for mine

Residents fearful despite assurances

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HEBRON — No one held signs or wore T-shirts that read, “Stop the Mine,” but many still voiced fears that if any limestone mine comes into Boone County it opens the way for a proposal that already was rejected after heavy opposition. About 55 people attended a public information session Thursday night hosted by Hilltop Basic Resources Inc. of Cincinnati, which wants to establish an underground limestone mine in Boone County.

        Hilltop, like Martin Marietta Materials Co. earlier, wants to apply for a zone change to open the mine.

        The company's presentation Thursday is the same that company officials will give to the Boone County Planning Com mission Jan. 24.

        Hilltop plans to use barges to remove the limestone, rather than trucks, as Martin Marietta proposed. Hilltop says the 1,600-ton-capacity barges it would use would replace 119 trucks required to move the same amount of stone.

        All limestone crushing and screening would take place underground, which Hilltop maintained would eliminate dust and noise that worried residents opposed to Martin Marietta's plan.

        Hilltop also plans to donate 113 acres on the site to Boone County for a riverside park, including construction of a boat ramp and restrooms.

        “I think you've made an excellent presentation,” said Bob Miller of Hebron. “The thing that I'm concerned with is that if you get approval they're (Martin Marietta) going to get approval and we'd have a mess.

        “I don't think our concern is with you. Your proposal, I think, is much more palatable to the people if the restrictions are in place.”

        Last year, Boone Fiscal Court denied a proposal by Martin Marietta. Residents were worried about blasting, dust and increased traffic. Fiscal court voted 3-1 against the proposal and said it did not fit the county's comprehensive plan. Martin Marietta has appealed to Boone Circuit Court.

        There was little discussion about dust, blasting or traffic in Hilltop's proposal because of the new approach the company is taking.

        Many at the information session wanted reassurances that Hilltop would not sell the property to another mining company.

        “You look good and you sound good, but what you're dealing with here are fears,” said Carol Kirkwood, who owns property near the proposed mining site. “That the company won't jump in bed with Martin Marietta is a big one.”

        John Steele Jr., president and chief executive officer of Hilltop, responded by saying his company is not up for sale.

        John Morgan, a mining consultant for Hilltop, said it would take about 18 months for the plant, to be called Riverstone Mine, to be fully operational.

        “We've tried to respond to people's concerns,” he said. “Avoidance is much better than mitigation.

        “The objective is, you won't know we're there.”


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