Quarry Issue Rocks Commission Again

KEVIN HALPERN, Courier Co-Editor

Bonnie Thomas has prepared herself for the reality she may not win her battle against a proposed rock quarry.

However, she is determined that Cannon County win the battle against future ones.

Although it wasn’t one of the items on the agenda, the Cannon County Commission had to deal with the issue of rock quarries for the second meeting in a row Tuesday night.

Stones River Quarry, LLC, of Flat Rock, Indiana, is in the final stages of receiving state permits which will allow the company to operate a rock quarry at the intersection of John Bragg Hwy. and Bradyville Road.

While it appears that there is little residents of the area, or the county, can do to prevent a third quarry from doing business along John Bragg Hwy., there was considerable discussion about what could be done to stop future ones.

Thomas, a resident of Readyville, blasted the commission Tuesday for not moving swiftly enough to implement zoning laws in the county.

At its last meeting Oct. 15, the commission voted to have the Cannon County Planning Commission study the "pros and cons" of zoning laws. The planning commission was scheduled to begin taking up the matter at its Oct. 25 meeting, but not enough members attended the meeting for a quorum.

"Passing the buck didn't get anything done," Thomas said as she presented commissioners with a petition from 324 residents who "became fed up with hearing that nothing can be done."

Commissioner Tony Neal said he had studied the manner in which counties formulate zoning laws and found that the process begins with the planning commission.

However, County Executive Mike Gannon disagreed.

"How many more (quarries) do we need," Gannon asked. "We have one of the most beautiful drives in Tennessee from Woodbury and Murfreesboro and it is being ruined. With all due respect, you (commissioners) made a bad mistake by sending it to the planning commission."

Gannon urged the commission to take back control of getting the issue resolved and turn it over to someone with experience in the matter.

Commissioners Russell Reed and Mark Barker both pointed out that the county could not simply ban quarries totally.

"We can't zone them out but we can tell them (businesses) where to put it," Barker said.

Commissioner Bob Stoetzel, new chairman of the 10-member body, said the commission has officially asked the planning commission to address the zoning issue.

"We know that a rock quarry can be built anywhere because we have no zoning but it is out of their hands," Stoetzel said.

Thomas urged the commissioners to move forward without further delay.

"They (state legislature) have set the state up so that we can make decisions for ourselves," Thomas said, "and we don't have to be micromanaged from far away."

She added the battle will continue until zoning laws are adopted.

"We haven't given up on fighting this (Stones River) quarry and doing what we can do, but my purpose here tonight was to urge you to move forward with zoning so that this doesn't happen again."

Patricia Weiland, also a Readyville resident, said she had spoken with a representative of Stones River Quarry and learned it might be sending as many as 100 trucks per day filled with rocks out onto Bradyville Rd., John Bragg Hwy. and other area roads.

Weiland also pointed out that Stones River Quarry's application for permits to operate here includes the words "Site No. 1" which indicates that more are probably being planned.

'I want you to protect our rights," Weiland said to the commissioners. "We have been duped for 18 months."

Following discussion, the commissioners voted to instruct County Executive Gannon to hire a state planner to assist the planning commission in establishing zoning laws. Ironically, the commission turned down the opportunity to contract with a planner earlier this year.

(Check back to CannonCourier.com and see next week's print edition of the Courier for additional coverage of Tuesday's commission meeting.)