Letter to the Editor

Why suffer another quarry

Friday, March 2, 2007

The Marshall County Tribune is serving as a forum for the quarry debate and is attempting to give all parties a voice.

While residents near the Pottsville Quarry agree they bought homes near the rock mining operation, they oppose another company's request for rezoning of land for another quarry.

And they ask: Why put up with two?

"We already live with the daily threat of losing our wells from the rock quarry," said Martha Watt. "Now we may have to live with the double threat of that.

"What are our property values going to be worth with two rock quarries in our area?

"We already have property damage to our foundation and patio from the blasts. Anything you can pour with concrete cracks."

B&W Excavators, a business with offices generally between Chapel Hill and Unionville, wants Marshall County Commissioners to rezone land next to the Rogers Group quarry at Pottsville. It's north of Highway 99 just east of the Maury County line.

"Why should these residents bear the burden of living near two rock quarries? The residents of four roads near the quarry depend on well water for our homes...

"We also have sink holes that open from blasting," Watt said.

In an attempt to prevent a vote by the county commissioners on the rezoning request, Marshall County Citizens for Responsible Zoning asked Chancellor J.B. Cox to issue an injunction to stop the vote. Cox declined, saying the judiciary shouldn't tell the legislative branch of government what to do.

"That was to put it off for a month," Watt said. "We're going to pick it up Tuesday morning if it passes" Monday night, she said.

No vote was taken because of a petition to the county's Board of Zoning Appeals which is a quasi judicial panel that has authority to resolve questions brought to it before the commission acts.

The citizens group was formed five years ago when area residents were resistig actions by another road construction materials company.

The citizens group is a limited liability corporation, (LLC), and its members are residents of the area near Pottsville Quarry.

"We formed it to fight quarries and any kind of industry that might come to our area that we don't want. We were advised by our attorney to form this group and that's what we did."

The organization has been accused to receiving donations from the Rogers Group which owns and operates the Pottsville Quarry.

"There's not a single resident of this group who has ever received a dime from the Rogers Group, as we have been accused... Why should we ask them? We don't feel it's their battle," Watt said.

Statements from Watt and Bobby Gropp are being presented here as one week ago others' statements were published. One of the people quoted here last week is Mayor Joe Boyd Liggett.

The county mayor "referred to my husband as a roofer," Watt said. "My husband and I own a commercial roofing business."

She indicated that their gross receipts are substantial.

"We've been here in business since 1962. It's a third generation company and we're residents of the county. We pay commercial and residential taxes. We're one of the few oldest companies in this county."

Watt was quoted by a Nashville TV commentator and she obtained Liggett's campaign financial disclosure statement which showed he received a contribution from B&W partner Todd Warner.

Noting that it's legal to donate money to candidates, Watt asked, "Isn't it strange that the suit B&W had against the county was dropped by B&W after Liggett was elected?"

Watt noted Commissioner E.W. Hill works for B&W and says he will vote for the rezoning.

She said that comparable to a situation which was presented a theoretical that might include a county commissioner who works for the Rogers Group and votes against the rezoning after declaring that it would be the best for the county.

"It's not against the law, but it's highly unethical," she said.

As for the argument that B&W will compete against Rogers Group and possibly lower rock prices, she said, "I'm all for competition in this county," but a second quarry could be located in anther part of the county.