Beulah residents seek to stop granite quarry

Published 7:44 am Friday, August 14, 2020

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On Monday, residents of Beulah attended the Lee County Commissioners’ meeting to raise concerns with a granite quarry that is potentially going to set up off Highway 29.

Along with Danielle Ritch and Tara Brumfield, who started the “Protect Beulah, Stop the Quarry” movement earlier in August, State Representative Debbie Wood and several other members of the Beulah community addressed the commissioners.

“Sometimes change is positive, and I know that change is hard, but this would affect a lot of the people standing here today in a negative way,” Wood said.

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The group started to oppose the quarry on Aug. 6, once information about Creekwood Resources, the company trying to develop the quarry, became more evident. As of Thursday, there have been more than 1,984 signatures on the petition online and more than 500 in-person signatures.

“Our community is behind us, and we’re behind them,” Brumfield said. “We definitely want to fight this.”

At the commission meeting, the Beulah community raised several concerns about the quarry, including water and air pollution and traffic on Highway 29, which is one of the most used roads in Beulah.

“This quarry is asking us to give up our livelihood, for potential dust, silica, noise, pollution to our water, disturbance to our water table, not to mention our peace of mind that we have in our little community,” Brumfield said. “I beg you please do whatever it takes to help us, to stop this effort from happening. We’ve stopped it once. We can stop it again.”

According to Ritch, there will be roughly 60 dump trucks a day on Highway 29.

“Highway 29 is a well-traveled road with very limited visibility,” Ritch said. “Highway 29 is the main access for all these Beulah residents to get to Opelika and Auburn where many of us work, take our kids to sports activities, go to the doctor’s office, the hospital and attend church.  Highway 29 is also the main route for EMA services.”

There is also fear among the Beulah community that the quarry would lower property value.

Lee County Commission Chairman Bill English informed those in attendance that the commission agreed with their point, but overall, the decision is up to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM).

English also said that he is on an email list that receives any information if ADEM receives an application in Lee County. He said the commission would do what they were able to do to prevent the quarry.

“We have before requested ADEM to hold a public hearing in Lee County if they reach that point, and we will ask them again,”  English said.

English informed Brumfield that he agreed with all of her points, but ADEM must consider air and water quality during their permit request process, but it is not allowed to consider noise, traffic and home values by law.

“I absolutely get the importance of noise, vibrations and truck traffic. I know what it does to property values. I’ve seen it,” English said. “Raise those issues, but I want everyone here to hear me say, stress air quality and stress water quality to get ADEM’s attention.”

District 1 representative Sheila H. Eckman advised the group to reach out to Auburn University for some experts to get tests for water and air quality and how a quarry would affect both.

As of Monday, Creekwood Resources had not put in an application for the quarry but had started exploratory boring, which is an investigation of soil to see what minerals are in the area.

“We need to know what you need us to do,” Wood said. “I’m here asking you to please reach out to me. We’re here to stand with you and to stand with our people. We know that we are limited on what you can do, but we need to know what we need to do to help you. We can stand together and be a better force.”

Creekwood Resources tried to put its development right outside Opelika in March but withdrew its permit application after opposition.

“I know there’s a place for this quarry, but we don’t want it in Lee County,” Wood said. “We don’t want it here. The people don’t want it here. We have to listen to their voice. We have to listen to their reason, their voice for no change.”