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Quarry opponents don't dig company's proposal at all

Posted July 11, 2008

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— A dispute in Franklin County is what you could call a quarry quarrel.

A company based in Granville County wants to put a rock quarry just north of Louisburg. Some say the quarry would bring sorely needed jobs to the area, but a number of homeowners aren't convinced and want nothing to do with the project.

Sophia Clifton Wall and Sheila Hanna are next-door neighbors. Decades may separate them in age, but they are equally active when it comes to protecting their land.

“Yesiree, I'm fighting it!” Wall said Friday.

The 95-year-old is one of many homeowners along N.C. Highway 39, north of Louisburg, who oppose Carolina Sunrock's plan to quarry near their properties.

“To put a quarry in is so non-conducive to the rural lifestyle because it's such a loud proposition,” Hanna said.

The company would use nearby land to create a facility that would produce aggregate stone and sand. Executives said they want to locate near a major business highway and would bring about 30 to 50 jobs to the area.

They would be “fairly well-paying jobs that we desperately need here in Franklin County,” said Ronnie Goswick, county economic development director.

The county took a big hit with the loss of Flextronics, its largest private employer. More than 400 jobs were lost. Goswick said that's one reason to take a look at Carolina Sunrock's proposal.

Ken Randolph, Carolina Sunrock executive vice president, said the Butner-based company would make an initial $5 million investment to get the project going.

Opponents say the potential for noise, vibrations, and contamination is too much, however.

There's also concern that runoff from the quarry could get into nearby Bear Swamp Creek, which flows into the Tar River.

“That's where we get our drinking water. Naturally, it concerns me and the town to keep the water and the atmosphere clean in that area,” Louisburg Mayor Karl Pernell said.

It is, Wall said, reason enough for her to keep fighting.

“I'm too old to have to worry about something like that now,” she said.

Sunrock executives say their industry is heavily regulated and their plan should answer community concerns.

The county Planning Board turned down the idea unanimously when Sunrock came to it for endorsement of a special-use permit it needs. The vote is advisory, however, and the county commissioners have the final say. The permit if on the agenda for their Aug. 18 meeting.

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