“We can’t afford to let this go through…because we’ll never get back what we’re going to lose!” urged a local citizen at Monday night’s Mad River Township (Twp.) meeting. She was only one of the dozens of Mad River Twp. residents who packed into the Mad River Township’s Fire Department’s conference room.
Local residents living near Echo Hills and Greenon High School are angry and concerned about the Jurgenson Company-owned Enon Sand & Gravel LLC’s proposed modifications to the company’s sand and gravel pits in Mad River Township. The company has filed a request for a change to their current mining permits, which would give them permission to make “significant mining modifications” to the property.
The mining permits Enon Sand & Gravel own were included with the property when the company purchased it and the surrounding areas. The site’s existing mining permits were approved sometime in the 1970s.
Trustee Bob McClure explained that, as he understood it, Enon Sand & Gravel wants to dig deeper than the shale layer the mine’s previous owner, Demmy Sand & Gravel, stopped at. Instead, the Jurgensen-owned company wants to extend the mine 63 feet deeper.
Among the many concerns raised during the meeting was the possible contamination of private wells, air quality problems brought on by dust from trucks and the mining, the possibility of carcinogens being released via T-N-T explosions and other practices, the lowering of home values, the destruction to protected and endangered wildlife, and the loss of financial resources to local schools and government entities.
“If this goes through, property values in the areas will decrease…and it is almost guaranteed the local population will also shrink. Lower home values alone take tax dollars away from our schools…right away I can see us losing eight teachers with such a (financial loss)” said one gentleman.
Larry Shaffer from the Clark County Combined Health District says the change to the mining permits would affect the 200 homes and the several businesses in the area. It would also affect Greenon High School. Shaffer addressed some of the residents’ concerns, even echoing some of them, especially those of water contamination in the Echo Hills area.
Shaffer says “I’m no hydrologist. But it makes sense to me that digging through the shale layer could likely open up a route to contamination which could cause problems with deeper local wells.” He also says the process used to mine deeper entails dewatering, which could also affect the volume of water in local household wells, and at Mud Run where the water would be dumped.
Shaffer says he has not received any assurances from the Ohio Department of Natural resources regarding any of his concerns, so he cannot advocate for Enon Sand & Gravel’s proposed changes yet.
Allan Niemayer of Clark County Community and Economic Development was also on hand to answer questions. He explained the permitting processes and zoning. Niemayer says the land being mined is zoned as A-1. This means the mineral extraction from that land is on a “conditional use” basis, so any changes made must go through a public hearing process. He answered several other zoning questions as well.
Acting Mad River Township President, Kathy Estep, reminded residents that the trustees do not have jurisdiction over approving or disapproving the permit request. However, the trustees can relay residents’ concerns and act as a liaison between the community and the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources (ODNR).
Another meeting devoted to the sand and gravel pit topic is scheduled for March 27 at 7:30 pm in the Mad River Twp. Fire and EMS department’s conference room. Representatives from ODNR and Enon Sand and Gravel LLC should be available for questioning that evening.
Other information about the issue will soon be made available at the Clark County Combined Health District’s page at www.ccchd.com.