Responsible zoning advocated

Friday, March 2, 2007

Conflict over rezoning for a quarry has been going on for nearly seven years and it will probably go on for some time, according to a member of Marshall County Citizens for Responsible Zoning.

That citizens group member, Bobby Gropp, spoke with the Marshall County Tribune after a Chancery Court hearing on a petition from the organization's attorney who argued for a court order to prevent county commissioners from voting on Monday on a request to rezone land for a quarry.

As this newspaper carried comments of three people one week ago on a related aspect of this public debate, the Tribune proceeds today with comments from Gropp and another member of the citizens group.

Gropp understood that Chancellor J.B. Cox declined to issue an injunction against the commissioners so they'd not vote Monday because "the judiciary couldn't stop the legislative branch from having an election," Gropp said.

Regardless, he said, the whole thing "is a mess and I wish it would go away," he said. "We've been fighting these quarries for like seven years. It's getting old."

Gropp anticipated "a show" during the Monday night commission meeting which was attended by hundreds of people, many of whom wore red T shirts and had with the words "Vote Yes" on their front.

The vote wasn't conducted because of advice received during an attorney-client meeting between commissioners and the county attorney. Gropp's lawyer, Andrew Hoover filed a request with the Board of Zoning Appeals and county rules call for that panel to deal with such issues before the commission proceeds.

"I don't think anybody wants to live near a rock quarry," Gropp said. "It's like a small earthquake [when blasting is conducted] and sometimes it's like a white-out" because of dust.

Some advocates say a new quarry will bring competition to the sales of crushed rock and related products and services.

"I think that's just hot air," Gropp said. "There are a lot of abandoned rock quarries. Sme are filled with water."

He said he didn't know about at least one contention by advocates of rezoning land for a quarry -- that the Rogers Group has bought quarries only to close them to eliminate competition.

As for allegations that he's been receiving money from the Rogers Group to oppose the rezoning for another quarry, Gropp said he gave sworn statements in depositions at his lawyer's office in Pulaski where he said, under oath, that he'd not received any money from the Rogers Group.

He said a reporter for WTVF TV Channel 5 Nashville asked him about that and while he said he's accepted help from the company for his campaign to stop creation of a new quarry, "Rogers has never given me one penny..."

"I was asked if I ever got any money from Rogers Group and I said no, but if they offered, I'd take it. I'm not a wealthy man..."

"I'm trying to protect my well water. Two of my neighbors have lost wells. They changed from good water to one with black sulfur water and you just can't drink it.

"That's what we're fighting to protect. There's no chance of us getting city water in the foreseeable future. Everybody gets their water from wells" in that part of the county, Gropp said.