Houston board to revisit proposed quarry

WARNER ROBINS — The Houston County Planning & Zoning Board plans to hear today a rezoning request that would support the development of a limestone quarry south of Perry.

Georgia Limerock Co. LLC’s request previously appeared on the board’s Sept. 21 agenda, but zoning officials suspended discussion until the Middle Georgia Regional Commission completed a required review of the project.

The commission submitted its finding earlier this month, stating the proposed development is “in the best interest of the region and, therefore, of the state.”

The finding is a result of assessments and discussions with officials from federal, state and local agencies potentially impacted by the project. It is only advisory and does not address whether the project is in the best interest of Houston County.

Georgia Limerock Co. seeks to have 854 acres rezoned as an M-2 general industrial district to support the development of a limestone quarry. The area currently is zoned as an R-AG residential/agricultural district.

The proposed quarry would be located within an area south of Ga. 224 and east of Elko Road, just off of Plant Road. The existing Cemex quarry is adjacent to and southeast of the site.

The mining operation would provide raw limestone material for use as a road base, which is the material between the soil and road surface.

Several Elko residents oppose the rezoning and proposed quarry, fearing it will cause their home values to plummet and harm their quality of life.

An Oct. 1 letter from the Middle Georgia Regional Commission to Tim Andrews, Houston planning and zoning administrator, notes some concerns officials raised about the project during the review.

Houston County officials commented that Plant and Elko roads are not designed for heavy industrial-type traffic and recommended the developer build another road to access Ga. 224, according to the letter.

In response to noise concerns, Houston officials also recommended increased buffers of 300 feet from adjacent residential property and 200 feet along Elko Road and the northern boundary of the property.

Currently, a 25-foot wooded buffer is planned to separate the mining area from adjacent property owned by Georgia Limerock Co., and a 200-foot wooded buffer is planned to separate the mining area from other properties, documents show.

In addition, Perry officials are concerned about quarry traffic on Elko Road and the quarry’s environmental impact on the groundwater recharge area, according to the letter. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service stressed the importance of making sure nearby streams and wetlands, particularly Big Indian Creek, are not negatively impacted by the project.

Some Elko residents who live near the proposed quarry plan to attend Monday’s meeting to speak in opposition of the project.

“We’ve been holding meetings weekly and trying to get a plan,” said Kelly Green, who lives on Elko Road. “I think we have many arguments.”

This biggest one, she said, is the zoning. The Houston County comprehensive plan indicates that Elko will be suburban in the future, she said.

“Heavy industrial zoning is a problem,” Green said. “Most of us are singing the same tune, and that’s, ‘Hey, we moved out here because it looked like homes were being built, and it was quiet.’”

To contact writer Jennifer Burk, call 256-9705.