Local mining company seeking to expand in Huger
DONMAR Sand Mining, LLC, located in Huger, S.C., is currently seeking a “Special Exception” through the Berkeley County Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) in hopes of increasing their mining facility from 5-acres and 20-feet deep to 32-acres and 30-feet deep.
The plans, which outline an increase of the mine to six times its current size, were deferred at the BZA meeting on Dec. 19 and will be seen by the board for the third time on Jan. 16 at the County Council Assembly Room, located at 1003 Hwy. 52 in Moncks Corner, where the final vote on the request will be made.
In order for the Special Exception to be issued, a number of requirements have to be met, according to the Flex-1 (Agricultural) Zoning District standards. For example, the mining site must comply with the Berkeley County Noise Ordinance; must be located within a half mile from an arterial road or a truck routing plan must be developed; must be buffered in accordance with the required mine buffer; shall not operate within 500 feet of a public or private school, public park or public recreation area, a residential use, a youth activity center, public library or a licensed child care facility; among many others.
Although applicants must adhere to the various requirements that are in place, some area residents remain concerned about the repercussions a mine of this size could potentially have on the community.
Nelliefield Plantation resident Lisa Kerns, whose husband sits on the BZA, is particularly worried about the implications that the expansion could have on traffic.
“We already have 250 trucks going up and down Clements Ferry as it is on a daily basis and to expand this mine, it’s going to add an additional, they say 50 to 250 trucks,” said Kerns. “…That’s a potential of 500 trucks per day on Clements Ferry and that’s just dump trucks. That’s not your regular trucks coming from BP or Nucor.”
Not only is traffic a concern, but the quality of the roads, continued Kerns.
“We’re currently trying to widen Clements Ferry Road and we already have bad roads as it is,” said Kerns. “We have roads that are under construction and the tax payers are paying for that expansion. If this gets approved, we’ll have these additional 500 trucks coming onto our roads and damaging them.”
According to DONMAR Sand Mines, LLC, who by requirement had to submit a written letter to the BZA for the Special Exception, the expansion of the mine will have no adverse effect on residential traffic.
“DONMAR Sand Mine, LLC has…improved an existing logging road driveway with a 100’x24’ concrete driveway on Charity Church Road,” the letter states. “Pedestrian and/or transportation corridors will not be negatively impacted. A construction entrance has been installed…behind the concrete drive on Charity Church Road and will be monitored and repaired as needed to ensure sediment and dust migration from the site is kept to a minimum. Public or private schools, public parking or public recreation area, youth activity center, public library, and/or child care facilities are not located along the transportation route for the mine.”
In addition to traffic concerns, Kerns emphasized that she is particularly worried about the residents who live close to the site of the expansion. Currently, she added, some residents are experiencing environmental problems with the 5-acre mine.
“They are already seeing issues with their water tables and water pressures and things of that nature being affected by the mine,” said Kerns. “The people that live along the French Quarter and that creek there, as these mines are being pumped out, all of that sediment and all of that runoff is going, sometimes, through people’s back yards, just to flow down through the wetlands and the marsh as water naturally flows. It’s contaminating their yards. It’s contaminating the marshes.”
Because the proposed mining site is not within the MS4 area of Berkeley County, the regulations state that the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control must also approve the application. According to the letter, DONMAR is currently seeking their consent.
“DONMAR Sand Mines, LLC is obtaining NPDES approval from SCDHEC for the entire mine to discharge storm water offsite,” the letter states. “An Individual Permit is actively being pursued from SCDHEC for the mining of the acres. The SCDHEC reclamation and regulations will be observed.”
Because he does not get a vote, Berkeley County Councilman Josh Whitley urged residents to attend the meeting on Jan. 16 to voice their concerns.
“I oppose it and hope the board will, too,” said Whitley, a Daniel Island resident. “Unfortunately, I do not get a vote. I encourage citizens to show up at the next meeting of the BZA.”
Residents can also contact their county council representatives before the meeting, added Kerns.
“If they don’t speak out, this will most likely get approved,” said Kerns. “It’s very important for them to come to this meeting or to reach out to their county councilmen and ask for them to stop this. It’s a crucial time for them to be in contact with their representatives.”
Attempts to reach a DONMAR Sand Mines, LLC representative for further comment on this story prior to going to print were unsuccessful.
“The proposed operation is compatible with existing uses in the vicinity,” stated the company in their application package to the county, “and will not adversely affect the general welfare or character of the immediate community.”
To view the full agenda for the Dec. 19 BZA meeting that outlines the DONMAR Sand Mine, LLC Special Exception, visit http://berkeleycountysc.iqm2.com/Citizens/Default.aspx.
For a list of Berkeley County Council representatives, visit https://www.berkeleycountysc.gov/drupal/countyofficials.