So I live up in the town of Dorchester and we saw there were some road signs in our neighborhood advising of a special exemption zoning hearing last night. So being the interested civic minded citizens we are, my GF and I made a special date to attend.
It turns out someone wanted to open another sand mine (where they mine out the sand from the ground) in our area. We have a couple small mines already down the road from us, they are a pain. The trucks start early and run late and they pump silty water in to the wetlands. They have “rules” but there is no monitoring and no enforcement.
I wan’t really sure what to expect (my first zoning board meeting and all), but it was interestingly well attended by fellow neighbors. When the board got to the sand mine on the agenda, the rep for the mine got up an made his pitch. Much to my surprise this is planned to be a +300 acre mine, literally across the street from where I live. It’s not everyday a small community like Dorchester gets a +300 acre sand mine dropped right in the middle of their lap.
During the “Public Comment” portion of the meeting, folks raised concern after concern after concern about the mines impact to the small community. How the trucks, noise, dust, and broken promises will ruin their homes. I watched the board members as citizens spoke, most were sporting their best stone-face “I just need to sit here a little longer” stare. The arguments against were compelling and virtually unanimous.
And then they closed the public comments (well almost – they failed to acknowledge yet another concerned resident/citizen. But she had no issues explaining their error and express her concerns), and then just like that, the Dorchester County Board of Zoning Appeals board voted “Yes” to approved the Special Exception for a private sand mine in the Town of Dorchester.
Despite all of the concerns and citizens appeal, most of the board voted “yes” to the raping of the land and local community. One of the board members did explain they were almost “required to vote to approve” regardless of the community concerns. All the little the boxes had been checked, and all the concerns of the community really didn’t matter. The public comment “show” was really just a formality it seems.
The town doesn’t benefit from this mine. None at all. But what they do get is +300 acres of quiet rural farm land stripped of its topsoil so the sand can be dug out, trucked away, and sold. They get a commercial mining office in the middle of their neighborhood. They get grossly increased truck traffic & (more) torn up roads. Yep, hundreds of additional dump trucks are now going to grind up and down the narrow country roads. As it is now with the small mines, the trucks start early and run all day long, either with road crushing loads or they’re racing back for another load. Now the new mine wants to bring in hundreds of more additional trucks each day as this new mega mine opens. They also get Silica air pollution from the large scale mining operations, contaminated ground water and pollution from the wastewater pumping (can’t dig out the sand if it’s covered with water – did I mention everyone in Dorchester is on well water?).
The people who live here do not want this mine. But it’s okay, all the boxes have been checked. For the next ten years, the mine will get to dig and chew and grind up the earth to make someone richer. And then at the end, we who live here, will have what?