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MILFORD – Luck Stone’s request to expand its sand and gravel mining operations has breezed through the Caroline County Planning Commission with a slight bump in the road.
The commission held a public hearing on the company’s request Wednesday evening, then voted 6-0 to forward it to the Board of Supervisors with a recommendation of approval.
The company has a sand and gravel plant on U.S. 301 south of Bowling Green, and it is seeking a special exception permit on adjoining land in order to have more area to mine.
The Luck Stone processing plant is located on a parcel of 995 acres, but a special exception permit allows mining operations on only 545 acres. The Richmond-based company wants another permit to allow it to mine an additional 451 acres just south of its existing site. The processing plant would remain in its current location, but most of the mining activity would move into the other parcel. Material would be hauled by truck to the plant at an access point between the two parcels.
In a meeting that lasted about 30 minutes, the commission was briefed by the county’s planning staff on Luck’s request and also heard from a company representative.
The planning staff recommended 11 conditions for the permit. They include a natural 200-foot buffer along the Mattaponi River, a 1,000-foot buffer along U.S. 301, and a 100-foot buffer along property lines.
During a public hearing on the request, one person addressed the commission. Carol Byrd of Ruther Glen did not directly oppose Luck’s plans, but she described a negative experience with a Luck Stone senior executive.
Byrd’s family owns a farm that fronts the Mattaponi River, and their property landlocks a parcel owned by the Luck Stone officer, whom she did not identify. He has a right-of-way across their property to access his parcel.
In the course of improving the right-of-way, he caused damage to her family’s property, including a wetlands area, Byrd told the commission. He refused to repair it, and the Byrds restored the land at their own expense.
Byrd had no objection to the company’s request for a special exception permit, but said, “I just want you all to know who you’re dealing with.”
Jon Riley, a land use and development manager for Luck Companies, who was present at the meeting and represented the company, told the commission the Byrd’s complaint was a private matter between landowners. He was unaware of Byrd’s complaint prior to the meeting, he said later.
In reviewing the company’s application earlier in the meeting, Riley showed slides of some of the mined area at the plant since it has been reclaimed. “It’s our goal to leave the property better than we found it if we can,” he told the commission. The company has received several awards for its reclamation efforts at other mining sites, he said.
Three people submitted letters to the planning department in support of the Luck Stone application, including two neighboring property owners.
One of the letters was from Bill Beasley of Beasley Concrete Inc. in Milford. The company buys a large volume of material from Luck Stone, he wrote. If it was not able to continue to do so, Beasley Concrete would have to turn to suppliers outside of Caroline County, which would add significantly to its costs and reduce tax revenue to the county, he wrote.
In reviewing the benefits of the company’s operations in Caroline, Riley told the commission that it supplies Beasley’s business and another concrete company in Milford. Luck Stone generates $215,000 annually in direct tax revenue to the county, he said, and it spends over $300,000 with local vendors and businesses. The company’s plant employs nine people, seven of whom live in Caroline, and it would hire another person if the permit is approved.
Depending on market conditions, the new area may keep Luck Stone supplied with enough material to continue its operations another eight to 10 years, according to Riley.
Luck Stone does not plan to increase the production capacity of its existing plant nor would there be any increase in truck traffic entering or leaving the plant, which opened in 2004. The new tract is owned by Ray Campbell Jr. of Bowling Green, clerk of Caroline County Circuit Court, along with two brothers and a cousin; the other three are not residents of Caroline County.