Welcome to the FC Concerned Citizens / FC Stop the Rock website!

Home What's So Bad About a Rock Quarry? Our Response to Those in Favor of Special Use Permit Approval About FC Stop the Rock Useful Links & Contacts Text of Quarry Proposal

What's So Bad About A Rock Quarry?

Click here to see the proposed quarry location on a map

There is nothing wrong with rock quarries in general or the overall design of this particular quarry operation. The problem that FC Stop the Rock has involves the CONTEXT, not the business itself or it's owners. Rock quarries serve a vital need for rock, sand, gravel, and cement to build the roads, homes, and other necessary structures that we depend on daily. The problem is WHERE this particular business wants to place a quarry, HOW the land in question is zoned and how that designation fits into the County's long-term development plans, WHAT types of impacts a quarry operation would have on neighboring properties, and WHY a special exception to current and long-term zoning designation and plans should be granted when the business in question fails to meet the codified requirements for a Special Use Permit.

The following information should help to clarify the community's concerns and the facts supporting those concerns:

Item 1
Special Use Permit

All applications for a Special Use Permit are governed by the Franklin County Unified Development Ordinance with additional guidance provided via the Comprehensive Development Plan and the county planning board. Article 7-A of the UDO sets forth specific requirements for Special Use Permits and, among the "Findings of Fact" (Section 7A-3) are requirements that the proposed project:

a) maintain or promote the public health, safety and general welfare; AND
b) comply with all local regulations; AND
c) be located, designed and proposed so as to maintain or enhance the value of contiguous property unless the development constitutes a public necessity; AND
d) conform with general plans for the development of the County's planning jurisdiction (AR in this case).

There can be no argument that this project is not being built in order to promote public health, safety, or welfare; it is not located so as to maintain the value of contiguous properties nor is it a public necessity. It definitely does not fall into the category of agricultural, forestry, conservation, or very low-density residential nor does it protect of the environment, preserve prime farm land, and it certainly doesn't contribute to the continuation of rural lifestyles, all of which are stated goals of the AR zoning district.  Therefore, under the rules of the Franklin County Unified Development Ordinances, the application fails to comply with Special Use Permitting requirements. This fact alone provides more than enough legal justification for denying the application.

Item 2

The noise that will be generated just by the normal day-to-day operations (not including blasting operations and traffic which will be examined below under separate item headers) of the proposed facility are very likely to be heard by neighboring properties. In addition, since the proposal indicates that operations are expected to run beyond the normal Monday thought Friday from 7am to 6pm and Saturdays from 7am until noon as needed in order to meet the demands of customers, they could easily be expanded to 24-hours-a-day without the need for any further permission from local officials.

The ground elevation of the proposed site, after being graded to 260 feet, will still be in the line of sight and, therefore, hearing, of the surrounding residential properties which have average ground-level elevations that are well above that of the graded project site. Since sound acts like a mirror and will bounce until it is stopped by an absorptive surface, it's reasonable to assume that the sounds from the site will bounce off the exposed rock piles and rock walls within the quarry areas in an upward fashion until the escape the site entirely and begin bouncing off of homes and outbuildings surrounding the site. While this might be deemed acceptable during the daytime hours, it won't be condusive to sleep either at night or during the day for those who work nights or are daytime sleepers (such as young children and the elderly or ill).

Item 3
Economic Impact

Sunrock's proposal indicates that "the economic impact will be very significant, in the form of payroll, real estate taxes as well as purchase of parts, supplies and services."  FC Stop the Rock is not aware of any heavy-equipment parts & sales companies in Franklin County, nor does our local Wal-Mart offers the kinds or quantities of office supplies and equipment that would be used in a facility as large as Sunrock is proposing.
SunRock appears to be either unwilling or unable to provide any evidenciary support for those claims and questions regarding these claims were directed to the company at the hearing before the planning board but were never answered. Our own lingering questions include the following:

  • What parts and supplies does SunRock expect to be purchasing in Louisburg and from where?
  • Can SunRock provide an estimate of the payroll tax and real-estate tax incomes that this facility is expected to generate for Franklin County?
  • What, if any, incentives are being offered to SunRock by Franklin County?
  • What specific types of service suppliers does SunRock expect to be using at this facility and which services are already contracted to companies outside of Franklin County?
  • What process does SunRock have in place to ensure that new hires are legal residents of the United States?
  • Would it be appropriate to say that fuel deliveries to SunRock's on-site vehicle and equipment fueling stations would be large fuel providers & carriers with whom SunRock almost certainly has a contractual agreement in place regarding special pricing for quantity deliveries rather than Franklin County companies?

Item 4
Traffic & Road Surface Impacts

SunRock's Traffic Reports do not consider the impacts of the project on Bickett Boulevard due to increased traffic volumes and a much higher incidence of slow-downs caused by heavy trucks which take noticeably longer to stop, start forward, gear-up & -down, turn, and make their way up hills like those found right along the proposed project site's westernmost line along NC Hwy 39/401. The reports provided by SunRock also fail to give any attention at all to higher road repair costs due to the influx of an additional 140+ heavy-truck trips through the county each day. Anyone that has ever driven on roads near large construction sites is all too familiar with the toll that heavy equipment takes on asphalt roads, most notably surface cracking, grooves worn into the road surface, and potholes. Other likely problems include increased accidents and more damage to vehicles sharing the road with SunRock's trucks as rocks, sand, and gravel inevitably bounce out or simply catch air and become windborne while traveling along local roadways. Even proper covering of such loads will only decrease these problems, but they cannot possibly be eliminated unless full length, snug-fit, hard covers are placed on all load-carrying trucks before leaving the facility.

Item 5
Real Estate Values

Sunrock's proposal indicates that studies made by "many mining companies" have shown that "properties in close proximity to quarries are selling for the same prices, require the same marketing times, and have rates of appreciation equal to similar properties in the same juristiction located some distance from a quarry operation." and the proposal goes on to state that "their operation in Franklin County will not negatively impact land prices in the area".

Community members questioned the validity of these statements at the public planning board hearing and asked SunRock who published the mentioned studies, when were they published, and where could they be found. The question was answered by a geologist who represented the firms proposal and position throughout the bulk of the hearing and his answer indicated that the "studies" were, in fact, made by him and were only performed on a casual basis. His research or conclusions could not be produced or explained any further by him or anyone else that represented SunRock at the meeting.

Item 6

SunRock indicates, both in their proposal and verbally, that their blasting operations are only performed once or twice in any given week, that they last mere seconds, that they generate only minimal noise and even less dust, and that the sum total of all blasts occurring in an average year will total less than two minutes. SunRock reps also say that neighbors probably won't even notice that they are blasting when they do and that the noise and vibrations created by their blasting will not cause any vibration or damage in nearby homes, nor will it be harmful to the hearing of folks who are nearby when blasting occurs.

Our response to this is that the average rock quarry blast uses 4,000 of ammonium nitrate blasting compound and SunRock admitted at the public hearing before the planning board that their own blasts tend to average out at a total of 5,000-6,000 pounds of the mixture. The average rock quarry blast measures a 2 on the Richter scale. To put those figures in context, Timothy McVeigh used an estimated 5,000 pounds of this same ammonium nitrate compound when he bombed the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City and that blast was heard & felt up to 55 miles away and registered a magnitude of 3 on the Richter Scale at seismographs located both 4.3 and 16.1 miles away. It seems hard to believe that neighbors won't notice blasting operations or that their is no risk of damage to their ears or their homes in the face of such easily verifiable evidence to the contrary.

Item 7
Hydrology and Watershed Impacts

Community members have been told by state water quality control board personnel and local well and well-drilling experts that the proposed project will impact the water table and nearby wells in numerous ways that will likely be evidenced in the color and quality of water coming from the taps of nearby well-owners and the higher likliehood of well output being diminished more quickly over the long term. The Mayor of Louisburg voiced his concerns in writing to the planning board as they related to the integrity of the water from Bear Creek Swamp which feeds into the Tar River and from there into the town's water supply and how he feared an impact on the quality and availability of the town's water. (View Map of Area Waterways)

Item 8
Visual Impacts and Adjacent Neighbors

Once again, the topography of the site as explained in Item 2 is a cause for concern. Detailed analysis of SunRock's claims and maps regarding topography has indicated that the ground elevation of the residential properties adjoining the proposed facility site along the highway ranges from 260 to 300 feet. The screen tower is 86 feet tall and will sit at an elevation of 260 feet, meaning that it will be line-of-site visible up to an elevation of 346 feet which is much higher than the lowest portion of the homes along the eastern property line. The maps don't show the proposed berm locations, but one would assume that they'll be along the interior edge of the 100 foot undisturbed buffer (at best) which, at 10-20 feet high (per page 1 of Section 2) which, with a base elevation of 290 to 300 feet, would put the tops of the berms at roughly 320 feet at their highest. This still allows a clear line of site to the top 26 feet of those towers from those properties, and that's if the viewer is at ground level. Upper story viewing would provide another 10 feet of tower height to be seen from each additional floor level above ground level. The buffer consists largely of southern pine trees whose branches are, at the top, sparse. This evidence would appear to indicate that, aside from the light and noise coming from the property, especially at night, it is likely that at least some of the equipment and other components of the site will likely be clearly visible to surrounding neighbors. Given the rural residential and agricultural nature of the entire area surrounding the proposed project site and for at least 1 mile in any direction, the visibility of industrial equipment will have a profound impact on the overall visible environment by taking it from a "camping in the woods" feel to one of being parked next to an electrical substation. This represents a dramatic departure from the zoning, intended use, and rural atmosphere that is envisioned by the Comprehensive Plan for development of Franklin County for this area.

Item 9
Air Quality

It should go without saying that diesel trucks and earth-moving equipment rolling around for 60+ hours per week on a nearby property will have an adverse impact on both the perceived and the actual quality of the air in the area surrounding the proposed project site and throughout the parts of the county that SunRock's trucks travel through. Less obvious concerns are actual of greater concern to residents. They include airborne dust and fine particulate which will likely contain minute silica particles, a known risk of hard-rock mining which can cause life threatening lung-disease. Airborne dust that escape the proposed SunRock site will get into the homes and HVAC systems of nearby homes, making dusting and duct cleaning requirements to increase. Airborne dust from the project site will also infiltrate the lungs of area residents to some degree and, when lung integrity is diminished due to young age, old age, or infirmity, will exacerbate breathing problems and pre-existing health conditions.

    Other Concerns
    Residents of the community at-large and, most especially, those surrounding the proposed project site, have a great many other concerns related to this project. They include Carolina SunRock's repeated failure (at their other area facilities) to abide by local, state, and federal laws regarding mining operations (resulting in a large collection of citations and fines) as well as environmental impacts including emmissions of carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, sulphur dioxide, and particulate matter of less than 2.5 microns as well as larger, less than 10 micron sizes - all of which have been measured in yearly tonnage outputs. In addition, there have been numerous complaints by members of other communities that have allowed SunRock to operate near their residential areas which include allegations of deceit and witholding of relevant information when presenting their project plans to local jurisdictions and their residents. Of course, there are other concerns as well, but this is already a rather sizable list and we're sure that you get the idea.


    Our Response to Those in Favor of Special Use Permit Approval

    Copyright 2008 , 2009 by Sheila Hanna. The names "FC Stop the Rock" and "FC Concerned Citizens" are Copyright 2008 , 2009 by Sheila Hanna.
    All rights reserved - No portion of this website or the names "FC Stop the Rock" or "FC Concerned Citizens" may be used without written permission from the author.