A crowd estimated at nearly 500 local residents attended the Mad River Township Trustees informational work session Monday evening at Greenon High School regarding Enon Sand & Gravel’s request for a mining permit.
Guests of the Trustees included representatives from Jurgensen Aggregates, the parent company of Enon Sand & Gravel, representatives from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Mineral Resources Management, Clark County Community Development, the Clark County Combined Health District, the Clark County Engineer’s office and all three county commissioners.
Jurgensen representatives and many from the State agencies were on the defensive for most of the evening.
There is a common misconception that Jurgensen has filed a permit to begin mining operations, but that is not true. They have the proper permits to mine the areas in question, and have been doing so for years. One Jurgensen employee stated that 20-30 truckloads of gravel are mined each year just to keep the permit active. The current request is to combine the two areas into one permit and to allow Jurgensen to mine deeper. The exact depth they wish to mine was not available at the Trustees meeting, but figures of 60 feet to 100 feet were mentioned.
A Jurgensen employee estimated that the current Enon Sand and Gravel location has a useful life of 5-8 years. Jurgensen purchased two parcels from Demmy Construction so that they would have an active mine after the current mine was depleted.
Demmy Construction had been mining in the two parcels for years. Jurgensen bought the properties several years ago and were able to mine more efficiently.
The Areas Involved
There are two plots involved. The first to be mined (Phase 1) is a 20-acre plot south of Fairfield Pike and east of Garrison Road. The second plot (Phase 2 & 3) consists of nearly 400 acres and is located north of Fairfield Pike between Tecumseh Rd. and the Echo Hills subdivision. Mud Run goes through the Phase 2 & 3 plot.
The Application Approval
The application to expand the mining operations must be approved by the County Board of Zoning Appeals and by the State. Since the Phase 2 & 3 plot is in a flood zone, Jurgensen must do studies to prove that their mining operations won’t have an adverse impact on the flood plain. The Army Corps of Engineers and the Federal Emergency Management Agency would have to be involved and approve Jurgensen’s plans.
Mining operations are heavily regulated by the State of Ohio. Mines are inspected several times each year to ensure that proper procedures are followed.
The first step in expanding the mining operation would be to clear away the topsoil and clay down to the limestone. The materials removed from the mining operation would be used to build a hedge around the mine, separating it from neighboring properties. Jurgensen expected this hedge to be 15’ high, with a 3:1 slope. This would help cut down on noise from the mining operation.
After the limestone is exposed, blasting would be done so that mining could commence.
“Blasting would be done about 20 times per year,” said Dennis Garrison, President of Jurgensen Aggregates. “We’re not going to be blasting throughout the day.”
The blasting process is also heavily regulated by the state.
In addition to state regulations, Jurgensen has established a call system that would notify those who register for the system of the blasting times. They would receive a phone call well in advance of any blasting.
The Environmental Protection Agency also has regulations regarding air quality at blasting sites. “The EPA is not on the site continuously,” said Garrison. “We monitor the air quality regularly and submit reports to the EPA daily.”
Steven Shaffer, a nearby resident, told the Trustees that state law allows blasts to be 133 decibels at the nearest residence. For comparison, Shaffer said that a jackhammer generates 100 decibels, and that an additional 33 decibels would be 1000 times louder than the jackhammer.
Garrison countered stating that a jackhammer operates for a longer period of time. A blast lasts a fraction of a second.
After the mining has begun, Jurgensen will have to pump out ground water to a depth greater than the depth of the mine, creating a “cone of depression” in the mining area. This cone would extend about a mile to the south and less in other directions.
The mine would be pumping about 220 gallons per minute into Mud Run continuously.
Before the ground water is pumped, Jurgensen would have to study nearby wells to make sure that there would be as little impact as possible.
The State has plotted wells in the area, but not all wells are on the State’s list.
Wayne Jones, of ODNR, stated that well drillers have been required to report wells drilled and their depth to the state. That requirement began in 1973. Wells drilled before that time may not be on the list. Jones also said that there are some wells that may not be on the list because of mislocation. “If there was no house number, and the address was just route 3, that’s what the well driller would report,” he said. “We also had instances of drillers stating that the well was a quarter mile from another location.”
Jones advised residents to check the ODNR website to make sure their well is listed. Just go to www.odnr.gov, click on “Water Home,” then “Search File Well Logs.”
Several residents expressed concern over the amount of water that would be pumped into Mud Run, a stream that floods in several areas during heavy rains. County Engineer Johnathan Burr stated that he was not informed of the pumping of water into Mud Run, and would have to do some investigation to see if the stream could handle that amount of water.
Once the gravel is removed from the ground, it would have to be trucked out of the area. Garrison stated that the most likely route would be out Fairfield Pike to Rt. 68. Residents also questioned the ability of Fairfield Pike to handle that amount of heavy truck traffic. Again, Burr stated that he was not made aware of the route and would have to study the roads in the area.
Enon Mayor Tim Howard expressed concern about the effect on the village’s well fields. A hydrogeologist for the village said that the State’s data seemed to be incomplete and not representative of the area.
“We believe the model was well constructed,” said Jones, “but if you have more information, please get it to us.”
Ammie Spahr, an Echo Hills resident said that property values in Echo Hills are already dropping. “There are sales contracts that are being broken,” she said. “Nobody wants to buy a house next to a gravel pit.”
Spahr also said that she contacted her insurance agent and asked if she might suffer losses due to the mining. She said her agent recommended adding earthquake insurance, increasing coverage due to the backing up of sewers or drains, adding mining coverage and purchasing flood insurance. She said that he quoted an increase of up to $600 annually in increased insurance premiums.
The County Board of Zoning Appeals will consider the application at a meeting sometime after April 15.
Garrison was asked what Jurgensen would do if the application was denied.
“We will continue mining under the current permit.”
“Our industry is well regulated,” he added. “We try to take care of a problem before it occurs.”
“We have concerns about water quality in Echo Hills, an area that already experiences some problems,” said Shaffer. “The Health Department cannot support the issue at this time.”
County Commissioner Rick Lohnes echoed Shaffer’s sentiments. “I haven’t heard anything tonight to change my mind on this,” he said. He also urged residents to make their concerns known to the Board of Zoning Appeals.