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NHC Considers Sand Mine In Castle Hayne

There is a new sand mine in the works in Castle Hayne. Construction in the area needs sand. This project would create a lot of it. But the location of the mine has people concerned.  There is push back from residents on the proposal.

The land is tucked away between GE Hitachi, a residential neighborhood, and Castle Hayne Road.

The owner, Hilton Properties, would operate the sand mine and has asked New Hanover County for two things: that the land be rezoned from rural-agricultural to heavy industry, and for a special-use permit to run a mine on 28 acres of the property.

The New Hanover County Planning Board took up those requests before an overflow crowd Thursday evening.

“Do you solemnly swear to tell the truth? Nothing but the truth. Anybody in the next three rows who signed in and is competent and you want to try to speak…”

More than 30 opponents of the project signed up to speak at the public meeting.

“…Additional recommendations or requirements would be to install and maintain the privacy fence that they are in favor of doing also a plant and maintain a vegetative buffer to further reduce the visibility of the trucks...”

Susan Murphy lives on Dekker Road. Her backyard opens onto Sledge Road. That’s a dirt road running from Castle Hayne Road to the proposed mine. Under the existing proposal, 80 trucks a day would travel in and out of the site, seven days a week, creating a lot of dust, noise, emissions and vibration. She doesn’t like that. She also isn’t too happy about some of the hazardous waste near the mine site, leftover from a GE dump.

“There are environmental concerns. There is some contamination on the land adjacent to where the sand mine is going to be. We're concerned about our well water. We're all served by well back there. As a property owner directly adjacent to the road, I'm concerned as well with the dust and the noise.”

There's nothing physically that separates my property from their property and, they have nothing in their permit that directly addresses how they could protect us from that.”

While the traffic is a major concern in the Wooden Shoe neighborhood, the contaminants are not.

Roger Shew is a professor of geology and environmental science at UNCW. He doubts any wells would be affected.

“So it'd be highly unlikely. Never say never, but highly unlikely that there would ever be any contaminant that would be caused by the sand mine to go toward the Wooden Shoe area.”

The Department of Environmental Quality has already approved the mining proposal.

When it came time for the planning board to vote, it was a split decision.

The group approved the rezoning 5 – 1. But the special-use permit was another story. That’s because SUPs face a higher standard, and must meet four key items.

Approval means the use will not materially endanger the public health or safety … The use meets all required conditions and specifications of the Zoning Ordinance… The use will not substantially injure the value of adjoining or abutting property… and the location and character of the use if developed will be in harmony with the area.

The planning board says the SUP won’t happen. Donna Girardot is the board’s vice-chair.

“I really would feel I'm very conflicted in it and I could not support at this time the special-use permit because of the impact it had on those residents that are around that road.”

Attorneys for Hilton Properties agreed. And rather than take a vote against the SUP, opted for a continuance.

The rezoning approval goes on to the New Hanover County Commissioners. But in this tale of two votes, the Special Use Permit is scheduled to be taken up again by the planning board at their March meeting, after the property owners revise the application.