The city of Opelika normally welcomes new industries and businesses with open arms.
Not this time.
City officials, local residents and others concerned about a proposed new granite quarry operation in Lee County are instead saying to its potential owners: Keep out!
The locals have valid arguments, as no one generally appreciates a mining operation coming to their backyard.
Further, and another reason to oppose the project: The quarry and its immense impact on traffic, water, air, noise and activity would be an immediate and noticeable detriment to much of Lee County’s greatest assets, including possible impact on nearby water supplies and the famed Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail that each year garners national publicity for the area.
Another major entity that would be greatly affected is Storybook Farm and its wonderful program of horse therapy for children with various needs.
Blasting and heavy machinery in mining operations almost in Storybook’s backyard would no doubt cause serious issues for the horses stabled there and the children and volunteers who attend Storybook Farm by the thousands each year.
House values in the immediate vicinity also likely would plummet.
Nearby schools are concerned about air quality.
Creekwood Resources, which filed permits with the state using a Florence address in northwest Alabama, applied for both air and pollutant discharge elimination permits from the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, or ADEM, for the quarry.
Even though the proposed site isn’t within city limits, Opelika residents would be ones to deal with the resulting negative impacts, city officials opposed to the plan said.
With a pollutant discharge permit, instead of being prohibited from discharging pollutants into local waters, there are limits placed on what is discharged and how often it’s done, and the company has to regularly report this information.
Saugahatchee Lake, the primary source for the city’s drinking water, is less than 2 miles away from the proposed quarry site.
Dan Hilyer, general manager of Opelika Utilities, said the quarry could cause a variety of impacts to the lake’s watershed. Substances from solid sediments to diesel or oil spills could get into the lake.
A potential disruption to the groundwater in the lake’s watershed could decrease the amount of water flowing into the lake.
Mayor Gary Fuller already is beating the drums in opposition to the project.
“I cannot think of one good thing that would come from a quarry as far as the city of Opelika is concerned,” Fuller told the Opelika-Auburn News on Monday. “This is worth fighting about. We cannot sit idly by and allow them to put something this bad in our community.
“We’ve got a lot of pluses and something like this quarry would set us back.”
The mayor has called a public meeting for 9:30 a.m. Friday in the council chamber at Opelika City Hall.
Questions are sure to fly, and opposition is sure to resonate throughout the meeting.
Perhaps it will be enough to make it clear to Creekwood Resources and ADEM that we do not want this quarry in our community.
Or in short: Keep out!