‘It’s devastating’: Charles City County residents up in arms over proposed mining operation

Local News

CHARLES CITY COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Residents are up in arms about a proposed sand and gravel mining operation that could be brought to Charles City County.

The operation would total 142 acres. Sand and gravel would be mined on 97 of the acres. The plot of land where the proposed mining operation could go is located close to the intersection of Route 5 and Route 106.

With tears in her eyes, one woman living next door to the property for the proposed project told 8News in an interview Wednesday that the proposed mining operation could go 100 feet behind her property and to the right of it.

“It’s just the solitude that we have here,” Debra Oldfield described how peaceful living on her and her husband’s land in the county is. “We have spent hours and hours out here, just listening to nature.”

But, that’s something that could soon change. “It’s devastating,” she cried.

Like other residents, Oldfield got a letter last week, letting her know of a new project, right next door.

“It’s just like losing a loved one,” she described.

A company named Aggregate Industries has applied to bring a sand and gravel mining operation to the county.

“All of this is going to be gone,” Oldfield pointed to just beyond her backyard.

Those for the project say the project will bring jobs and revenue to the county. However, Oldfield has concerns that the operation will bring dust, noise and erosion.

“If the runoff from that, the overfill of that come these seasons where we have hurricane seasons, it’s going to fill up and then it could flood all of this area and then my home could be underwater,” Oldfield said.

Assistant county administrator Rhonda Russell told 8News Wednesday that the company has committed to answering concerns, hopefully by the next meeting. She also said the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy will need to go through their permitting process after the local review is completed.

Russell said it’s important that the community knows of their opportunity to provide feedback into the process.

She said one thing that consistently came up in Tuesday night’s public hearing via Zoom was residents stating they did not get enough notice about the proposal.

However, she said the company has followed the requirements necessary to notify the public, including holding a public information meeting before planning commission meets, notify residents nearby the proposed site and sending out a notification via newspaper or newsletter.

The company has also placed a sign on the property announcing the hearing to the public.

Full statement from assistant county administrator Rhonda Russell

“Charles City County is still in the exploratory phase regarding Aggregate Industry’s proposed business opportunity. As part of our planning process, Charles City County requires proposed new business start-ups to engage the community in advance of presenting formal proposals to the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors.  The community meeting held on November 9th was organized to fulfill that requirement. Citizens in our community raised important operational questions regarding the Aggregate Industries, Inc. proposed mining operation. The Planning Commission will take all of this information under advisement when considering the proposed development. 

The Commission will hold a public hearing on this request at their November 18th meeting.  The Planning Commission will meet at the Government Administration Building at 7 PM on November 18th, and citizens are encouraged to participate in this meeting.”

But, Oldfield said she’ll continue to fight for her and her husband’s peace. “With my PTSD, it’s a calming thing to me,” she described her property.

The next opportunity for public comment will be at the planning commission meeting on November 18. There, planning commission may or may not make an action on the project. If it is approved, the project will then be sent to the board of supervisors for approval.

8News also reached out to the company over the proposed mining operation and their lawyer said they’re choosing to give no comment on the residents’ concerns and the proposal.

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