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By Christian Alexandersen Times Staff Writer | Posted: Saturday, September 7, 2013 12:00 am

The code regulating mining in Carroll County is being revised after Lehigh Cement Co. experienced issues that could have impacted its plan to expand its New Windsor quarry and transport limestone via conveyor system to its Union Bridge facility.

The Carroll County Board of Commissioners authorized planning staff to use language it developed to resolve issues involving Lehigh’s expansion plans. The new language will be brought to the Carroll County Planning and Zoning Commission for its consideration in the near future.

During Thursday’s board of commissioners meeting, Phil Hager, director of the county’s Department of Land Use, Planning and Development, said that although the suggested changes came up as part of Lehigh’s plans, Hager said any code changes would apply to all mining operations in the county.

The areas of concern are an unclear understanding of “extractive operations,” a possible county code mistake which could forbid the use of heavy machinery for most mining operations and a potential problem with the definition of “conveyor system.”

Staff proposed adding a section to the definition of “extractive operations.” The added section makes it clear that the storage of excavated materials would not be considered an extractive operation.

The second change would permit excavated material stockpile areas to be located in Mineral Resource Notification and Mineral Resource Recovery Areas and that the stockpiled materials be used to construct berms.

A Mineral Resource Recovery Area is a defined area which has a mineral resource under it and allows for mining and processing operations. A Mineral Resource Notification Area is an area within a half-mile of a Mineral Resource Recovery Area or a Viable Resource Area that requires notification of property owners and keeping development away from the mineral resource.

According to the proposed language, all the stockpiles would be behind landscaping, berms and visual buffers, which must comply with provisions of the Carroll County Landscape Manual.

A strict interpretation of the county code would not allow mining companies to stockpile excavated materials in the mineral resource areas and use them to construct the berms, Hager said. The change allows companies to stockpile the excavated materials, keep them in the areas and then use them to build the berms, he said.

Another proposed change would be to the activities allowed in a Mineral Resource Recovery Area. The section currently allows the use of heavy machinery for refining and processing but not for removing of overburden, extracting, crushing, moving, washing and screening.

The new proposed language would allow for heavy machinery to be used for all of those tasks.
Planning staff has also proposed adding language to the definition of “conveyor system.” Staff added, “Conveyor system does not include mechanical handling equipment utilized on-site that is accessory to any industrial, commercial, or extractive use.”

The new language will be brought to the planning commission for review and a vote, Hager said. Following a vote by the planning commission, it will be brought back to the commissioners for a public hearing. Then the commissioners will vote on the proposal, he said.

Hager did not publicly set a timetable to have the language changes back to the commissioners for a final vote.