Sunday, October 25, 2015

Building a rock quarry within 200 feet of Old HIckory Dam seems like a stupid idea and should be stopped.

I am not an engineer or an attorney and I  don't have all the facts, but the project underway by Industrial Land Developers to build a rock quarry next to Old Hickory Dam seems like a really stupid idea.  When I served in the Council, the district I represented did not have a rock quarry but I sat next to a member of the Council who did represent a district with a quarry and he told me he got constant complaints about people's homes being damaged from blasting at the quarry. Many of these people lived blocks away.   I know that blasting for construction or road building can cause damages blocks away from where the blasting occurs.

No one wants a rock quarry in their neighborhood.  A rock quarry is as about as welcome as a landfill or a prison. Not only must people risk having their foundations damaged from blasting, but noise, dust, and oversize trucks constantly running up and down the roads makes for an unpleasant situation. Opposition to the proposed Old Hickory rock quarry however is more than just a case of not-in-my-backyard.  If blasting at the rock quarry should cause the 60 year old Old Hickory Dam to fail, downtown Nashville could flood and lives could be lost.

Land clearing has already started on the project and apparently, without proper approval. Here is an excerpt from, and link to, a News Channel 5 story:

OLD HICKORY, Tenn. - Despite efforts by residents and city officials in the Old Hickory area, work on the proposed rock quarry seemed to have moved forward, but was it legal?
Those who oppose the quarry claimed the work being done was not authorized. Work crews were working on the site Thursday afternoon to clear the land. State officials were also on the property doing their own investigation.(link)
Congressman Jim Cooper writing in The Tennessean says the situation is dangerous but the Federal options for stopping it are few and the State has not adopted laws to stop the project and even if they were do so now, the quarry would be vested and it is unlikely new State laws could stop the construction. (link)

I did not see the bills as significant when reading the last agenda of the Council and did not know they were aimed at a current problem, but the Council has two bills under consideration that may slow or stop the construction but it is unclear they would accomplish that objective. If the Council does pass them, there will most likely be a legal challenge by the developer. (link)

The Council bills that would address this issue were before the Metro Planning Commission on October 22, 2015. To view the discussion skip to time stamp 30:00 in the video below. Councilman Larry Hagar, Representative Bill Beck and Councilman Bret Withers and several residence address the Commission in favor of the bills. Attorney Tom White, a long time lobbyist who often represents developers, speaks in favor of the bills. He argues the owners have a "vested right" to develop the quarry. Councilman Hagar, who is also an attorney, refutes the "vested rights" argument. The staff attorney for the Planning Commission says a court would likely find the developer has "vested right" as regards to the bill that would prohibit mineral extraction.  The bills are recommended by the Planning Commission.

To stay abreast of developments surrounding this issue you may want to "like" the Stop The Old Hickory Lake Quarry Facebook page.

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