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Hanson Site in North Carolina Faces Expansion Opposition

A proposal by Hanson Aggregates Southeast, a division of Germany-based HeidelbergCement Group, to rezone an area near North Raleigh, N.C., is facing community opposition. The proposal would allow Hanson to expand its granite quarry west into 142 acres of land owned by a housing developer.

Rezoning the area from residential to industrial would run contrary to the city’s 2030 Comprehensive Plan, adopted in late 2009 to guide the city’s rapid expansion. And many of the 15,000 residents who surround the existing quarry on three sides say that’s a problem. They’re worried about the impact spot rezoning will have on potential homeowners who use the plan to guide decisions about where to buy, according to local media reports.

They’re also concerned about blasting in an expanded quarry, and the impact it will have on their property values. But Hanson is hoping to address those concerns by offering the city and nearby residents a few perks, such as property for a greenway and the construction of noise-dampening barriers and berms.

It’s also offering the use of its existing quarry for flood control in a major storm. With proper notice, Hanson says it could evacuate its equipment from the 250-ft.-deep pit, allowing the city to channel overflow stormwater from a nearby creek.

An analysis by an engineering firm hired by Hanson shows the measure could protect 76 acres of land and 11 to 13 structures in a 100-year storm. One of those structures is Crabtree Valley Mall, which suffered extensive flood damage from Hurricane Fran. Those benefits decrease downstream from the site, and would likely provide only inches of flood protection as far out as downtown Raleigh.

The city would be responsible for designing, permitting, installing and constructing the flood-control system, as well as the system to drain the water according to waste water regulations. Based on adjusted costs of a similar plan in 1991 that was eventually scrapped, Hanson attorney Gray Styers priced the construction, engineering and land rights of such a project at about $4 million, not including the cost of the pump system, according to the local media.

Casey said Vulcan helped to organize the political-action group after hearing support from many in the community for the new mining plan throughout its approval process.