By Max Hrenda
After citizens expressed their concern over the potential reopening of a quarry along Judge Ben Allen Road, members of the county’s Highway Committee told them that ultimately, the decision was out of their hands.
Acting Committee Chairman Joel Street said the landowner, Aggregates USA, could open the quarry with or without the committee’s approval.
“The only thing we can do is not widen the road,” Street said. “(Aggregates USA) is indicating to me that (the) company will still come if the road is not widened.”
The widening of Judge Ben Allen Road was first brought up at the committee’s meeting on Feb. 11. During that meeeting, Phyllis Hodge, who lives on the lower end of Judge Ben Allen Road, presented a petition to the committee asking that the road not be widened near the quarry entrance.
This time, other citizens came to voice their concerns, over the widening and the presence of a working quarry in their neighborhood.
Although Bill Hicks lives in the Keenburg community, he presented the committee with a list of comments from residents of the Judge Ben Allen Road area. Hicks said he and some of these residents had concerns over the potential environmental damage that could be caused by reopening the quarry.
“The cavern called Renfro Cave is an area landmark, and is still visited by those within that neighborhood,” Hicks said. “I don’t know how any further dynamiting in that area would affect any wildlife in that cave, or the cave itself. I hope the proper studies are done before further damage is done to that area.”
Along with Renfro Cave, residents expressed other concerns regarding the environment, specifically air quality.
“I would be concerned about the air quality in the area,” said Daniel Moore, who lives across the road from the quarry. “When you drive in and out (of a quarry), by the time you get out, your vehicle is going to be filthy. A lot of that is going into the air.”
In addition to environmental concerns, Moore added that reopening the quarry would make the road and surrounding area less hospitable for the neighborhood children.