The public campaign against a granite quarry proposed for north of Opelika is gaining support.
Creekwood Resources, a company based out of Florence, submitted applications for air and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permits. The latter would enable the company to discharge select pollutants into local waters, with limits placed on how often it could be done; posing a threat to Saugahatchee Lake.
Residents have also been posting yard signs outside of their homes, especially in the neighborhoods located nearest to it, to support the city’s opposition to the quarry. Those interested in acquiring a sign of their own can pick one up from the Lewis Cooper Jr. Memorial Library located downtown.
The lake, which is the city’s primary source for drinking water, is less than two miles away from where the quarry would be located.
Mayor Gary Fuller invited citizens to join a number of city officials, organizations and himself in a meeting on Friday at city hall to hear more information to better understand the gravity of the situation.
Even though it would be outside of city limits, Fuller and other city officials explained the quarry’s daily operations would negatively impact the city, particularly the quality of life for residents. Potential issues mentioned during the meeting included noise pollution from the quarry’s mining efforts and air pollution from its dust collected in the wind.
Opelika City Schools superintendent Mark Neighbors is also a staunch opponent. He has stated public that, with Morris Avenue Intermediate School 1.5 miles away, Opelika High School 2.5 miles away and the likely increase of heavy diesel truck traffic in those areas, the health of students in the area stands could be negatively affected.
Neighbors’ school board passed a resolution Thursday explicitly stating its opposition to the quarry.
“We have 4,500 students and their parents and grandparents, so I think that it’s a quality of life issue for us,” Neighbors said after the meeting. “Not just at school, but in our community. We’re 100% behind fighting it.”
Another Opelika organization firmly opposing the quarry is Storybook Farm, a local nonprofit. Founder Dena Little told a public meeting last week that the quarry could hurt the animals and children on the farm.
“There are obvious problems of air, water and noise pollution all of which will harm our animals and damage the quality of services we provide, but we also recognize the potential for safety concerns as a whole,” Little explained.
Should the quarry come to fruition, the farm’s visitors and animals would be at risk for getting sick due to their close proximity to its dust and tremors from the ground as a result of their digging would ruin opportunities for many of the farm’s activities, like riding.
“Horses spook. Loud noises and unfamiliar sounds can send a horse into flight or even worse a combative attitude if they feel threatened,” Little said. “Imagine that combination with a young child aboard.”
The farm is working with marketing company Here Molly Girl to develop the #SaveStorybook campaign, which Little said has seen a “tremendous” amount of support through social media.
The Alabama Department of Environmental Management will accept letters from concerned residents until Thursday, Feb. 20. Fuller and other city officials have been encouraging everyone to write letters detailing how the quarry would affect their quality of life and request a public hearing.