Graham — On Thursday, residents of Snow Camp and the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League filed for legal action in Alamance County Superior Court, demanding that the county enforce the regulations in its Heavy Industrial Development Ordinance. At issue is a proposed rock quarry in the residential community. Snow Camp residents have actively opposed the permit, which they say threatens their air quality and access to their well water.
Charles Winfree, attorney representing BREDL and the Snow Camp residents, said, “Due to violations in the application, the citizens are asking the court to reverse the county’s decision to grant the permit.
“Alamance County’s HIDO is a law enacted to balance the placement and growth of industrial land uses, while maintaining the health, safety and general welfare standards of established residential and commercial areas. We believe the county has ignored or misapplied its own ordinance, and in doing so, has jeopardized the neighboring community.”
Local residents formed the No Snow Camp Mine Chapter of BREDL to oppose the permit, claiming numerous violations in the HIDO application submitted by C. Wayne McDonald, manager of Snow Camp Property Investments, LLC. On July 1, 2019, the group sent a letter through their attorney to County Attorney Clyde Albright listing the violations and requesting that he meet with the residents’ attorney to discuss the issue. The letter and request for a meeting were rejected by Albright and by the commissioners.
“As an environmental organization, we frequently see municipal governments fail the citizens who elected them and instead show their allegiance with polluting industries,” said Lou Zeller, executive director of BREDL. “The only recourse for Snow Camp citizens to protect their health and safety from the impacts of heavy industry is to contest the permit in the N.C. Superior Court.”
The 344-acre Snow Camp mining site is situated in a former cow field surrounded by residential homes and rural properties. Three natural streams run through the site, along with utility easements for two of Duke Power’s High Voltage Transmission Lines and three of Colonial Pipeline’s Hazardous Liquid pipelines, transporting gasoline and jet fuel to the East Coast.
A construction company has applied for an N.C. State Mining Permit that would include heavy equipment operation and explosive blasting at the site. The Snow Camp community believes this to be dangerous to families, the environment and the children who attend nearby Sylvan Elementary School. Snow Camp residents learned of an intent-to-construct permit for surface mining in its neighborhood on Oct. 1, 2018, more than nine months after the permit was issued without public notification by the county.
The No Snow Camp Mine Chapter of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League was formed in January 2019. Founded in 1984, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League is a regional, community-based, nonprofit environmental organization. Their founding principles are earth stewardship, environmental democracy, social justice and community empowerment.
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