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Home » Issue Areas » Lehigh and Quarrying » Newspaper Articles » 2008

Disruptive nature of conveyor belt worries property owners

UNION BRIDGE - The county has received no official request to amend an agricultural land preservation easement to assit Lehigh Cemetn Co. in building a conveyor belt transportation system between the new Windsor quarry and the Union Bridge plant, officials told residents at a community meeting Monday night.

The Carroll County Board of Cimmisioners held the meeting in Union Bridge Monday for residents to discuss any issues. But the conveyor system and truck traffic were the two pressing issues of the night.

Kathy Montgomery of New Windsor said she believes the overland conveyor system will disrput the rural nature of her community and bring down property values.

"Who's going to buy my house?" Montgomery said, if the system comes within two properties of her home. "I'm almost at the crosshairs of Lehigh's gun in this conveyor belt."

Area resident Dan Hoff said that while people may not like the idea of a conveyor system,it would be better than trucks or rail cars, which would have to operate nearly around the clock to transport the amount of stone Lehigh plans to move.

"I think it's the lesser of theree evils," Hoff said.

Hoff told the residents he thinks they should focus their efforts in working with Lehigh to design the best conveyor system possible rather than trying to fight it altogether.

Several people spoke out against the possibility that two agricultural land preservations easements would need to be modified to allow the conveyor to cross their properties.

Ralph Probertson, county program manager for ag preservation, said that so far, one landowner submitted a request for an amendment, but the request did not include enough information and so it was returned.

Robertson said the county will follow a state-devised system for rewarding a requested easement, and said that these amendments have happened in other parts of the state but only when the easement holder received more than was given up in return.

Linwood resident John Carr said he's afraid that a county decision to make an easement amendment would set a negative precedent, possibly leading more industries to come forward and try to take advantage of preserved land.

County officials assured residents that this issue would be carefully considered before any decision is made.

"There's a lot of process that has to be implemented for this to go off," county Planning Director Steve Horn told the room of three dozen residents.

Robertson said that the county will conduct an open process that will include time for public comment. Anyone who would like to get on a meeting list for the agricultural preservation advisory board should contact Robertson at the County Office Building at 410-386-2400.

Source: Carroll County Times: 09/23/2008