Wednesday, February 06, 2002

Gravel operation grows

Mining expanding on surface

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        BURLINGTON — One of two companies battling to deep-mine limestone in western Boone County is expanding its existing gravel surface mine.

        Martin Marietta Corp., with virtually no noise, fanfare or threats, will soon open an additional surface gravel mine operation on property abutting Petersburg on Ky. 20.

        Boone County Fiscal Court heard a brief report from County Administrator Jim Parsons on Tuesday explaining that Martin Marietta has filed an application for a special use permit to expand its gravel mining production between Ky. 20 and the Ohio River in western Boone County.

        “This has nothing to do with the company's subsurface mining efforts,” Mr. Parsons said. “The land, part of the old Vesper farm, has been zoned I-3 (industrial) for many years.”

        Martin Marietta has attempted over an eight-year period to obtain zoning changes that would permit underground limestone mining in an area near Interstate 275 and Ky. 20, west of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, but the county has repeatedly turned down the requests.

        The case is under consideration by the Kentucky Court of Appeals, with oral arguments set for this summer.

        Jennifer Warner, who owns a bed-and-breakfast near the proposed underground mining site and has been active in opposition to limestone mining in western Boone County, said she was aware that Martin Marietta would eventually expand at Petersburg.

        “I didn't know it was happening right now, but everyone knew it would happen,” she said. “It's too bad, because it's right next to the town and it will change the appearance of Petersburg forever. In years to come, when you drive off that hill on Ky. 20, all you'll see is a big hole and a lake.”

        Attorney Jim Dressman, who has represented Martin Marietta in its actions to begin subsurface mining, said the company “hopes to get about 25 years out of this new mine. It's just an extension of our existing operation there.”

        He recalled that several years ago a group of Petersburg and Boone County residents attempted unsuccessfully to have the piece of property in question changed back to an agricultural zone.

        Acting on the recommendation of a consultant, Marshall Miller Engineering of Lexington, the county approved a $1.3 million bond Martin Marietta will put up to make sure the property is properly reclaimed when the mining in any portion is concluded.

        Mr. Dressman said the total reclamation cost for the extension is estimated at more than $3 million, but the land will be reclaimed in sections over a period of years as the mining continues.

        Another mining company, Hilltop Basic Resources, also is fighting with Boone County over denial of a zoning change for a proposed underground limestone mine in the vicinity of Ms. Warner's bed-and-breakfast.

        Hilltop, a family-owned Cincinnati business that supplies concrete to major construction projects, wants to build the underground limestone mine on 534 acres along the Ohio River north of the Petersburg interchange of Ky. 20 and I-275. Hilltop plans to use barges, rather than trucks, to move the limestone.

        Gravel from the Martin Marietta surface mines at Petersburg are moved by truck and, in some cases, by barge.


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