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Vote to stop Beulah quarry to take place on Tuesday

Since July, the citizens of Beulah have been working to stop a potential quarry from being set up in the city. Lee County residents will vote on Tuesday on a zoning ordinance that would more than likely keep the quarry from being put in Beulah.

“There is a large group of people that have been in the Beulah community for years, and they are very concerned about the environmental impacts the quarry can have coming into the community,” State representative Debby Wood said. “There is also a large residential subdivision that is not far from the desired location for the quarry, and those homes are built on a monolithic slab, so there is a lot of concern of a quarry and blasting and what the impact can be to the community. Not just the noise but when you start to dig into the ground and doing things to get your aggregate materials out, what are the ramifications of that and how can that impact the surrounding community? I’ve had a lot of people that have contacted me with concerns about how it will affect their community, and they are afraid.”

The proposed site is on property owned by the Weyerhaeuser Corporation. The site is off Lee Road 177 and borders Halawakee Creek not far upstream from historic Bean’s Mill. Nearby is the Sentinel Hills subdivision, which has more than 60 residential parcels.

According to Wood, Bean’s Mill Creek already has compromised issues. The Alabama Department of Environmental Management said that the creek “did not fully support its use classification of fish and wildlife with respect to organic enrichment, low dissolved oxygen, and compromised macroinvertebrate community as a result of urban development and runoff.”

“Quarries demand a high amount of water, and people are afraid that they will start drilling and taking underground water. That water could include Bean’s Mill Creek or all kinds of water underground,” Wood said. “There’s a lot of issues because there’s a lot of unknowns. If we had all the facts, it would be easier for residents to feel more comfortable having a quarry locate so close to their homes.”

Weyerhaeuser tried to put a quarry in Opelika in March but failed to do so after the residents passed a zoning ordinance.

“I know there’s a place for this quarry, but we don’t want it in Lee County,” Wood said at a Lee County Commissioners’ meeting in August. “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.”

While there are a lot of residents that do not want to bring the quarry into Beulah, some are hesitant for voting for zoning ordinances.

“This is a fight that has divided a community, and it’s very sad,” Wood said. “It’s a fight that is worthwhile. I understand that people are afraid of zoning. They purchased their property, so they can do whatever they want to do with it. But this allows the community to decide whether or not they want a quarry to come in. I think it is a great thing that the county commission has done to let the citizens decide, and that’s what they’re doing.”