This week about 4,000 Maryville residents living near the Vulcan Materials quarry on Court Street will be hearing from their corporate neighbor.
Vulcan and the City of Maryville are locked in a lawsuit over the company’s rights to move quarry operations on the property. The acreage they own or lease is situated between Court Street to the east and Montvale Road to the west. Currently, quarry operations are near Court Street but a berm separates those operations from the street.
Mayor Joe Swann said it is difficult to talk about lawsuits in progress. “We’re continuing to meet regarding possible compromises that might be made, but we’ve been unable at this point to agree on what those would be,” he said
Vulcan Mid-South Division president Stan Bass said the compromise the city most recently turned down would have been better for the city in long run, even if the city were to win the lawsuit.
“If we go through this court case and win, we can mine all the way out to here,” he said gesturing toward Montvale Road on a map. “If we lose, they keep us here,” he said, showing the current footprint and the area in front and to the side of it. That reduces the buffer area and we still have mining to do for 50 to 60 years.”
Bass said the company is offering a compromise, and that is the subject of the letter to the residents. The company would give up quarrying on 105 acres of land at Montvale Road and on another 97-acre section close to road in exchange for 42 acres of property immediately adjacent to where they are now. “We’re trying to create a compromise. We’ll make a bern and green space so we never got closer to Montvale Road,” he said.
“Our proposed compromise would have placed the quarrying in the center of the property and created boundaries to limit future quarrying to the center of the property,” Bass said in his letter.
Bass said the company is trying to clarify to citizens what is happening with the case.
“We’ve attempted for approximately two years to negotiate this settlement, and we’ve been unable to resolve it. What we’re trying to do is clarify it to citizens, tell them what is really going on,” he said. Bass said he has heard some residents believe that Vulcan is not being a good neighbor and that they don’t care about the community.
“I think history would show that’s not the case,” he said.
Bass said the No. 1 issue is to ask what makes sense. “We don’t want the city to spend more and more money (on lawsuits). We want a reasonable compromise. This will be our footprint forever. We don’t want to go any further,” he said.
When asked what would be a “perfect world” situation or compromise, Swann said the company would control dust and noise and issues with streams that run through Vulcan and truck traffic through town so the impact would not be so great on citizens who live in around where it is, he said.
“Unfortunately the impact it has creates the single biggest or largest number of complaints the city has for any industry because of that,” Swann said.
The mayor said citizens’ concerns about the facility expanding from where it is now are why zoning was instituted in 1988. “We put in zoning to ensure that it couldn’t grow. That’s not a use we consider compatible to urban areas,” the mayor said. “Although we agree that where they are they should be able to stay in bounds of where they are.”
Bass said there is a “big misnomer” that if Vulcan loses the court case over vested rights to their property they would be out of business. Even without a ruling in their favor, Bass said they would stay in their current location for possibly another 50 to 60 years.
“We started this process five years ago. We think this is better for the community. We want a buffer area by moving toward the center,” of the property, Bass said.
Councilman Andy White said his end goal would be for everyone to come to an agreement. “At this point, that may be difficult,” he said.
White said that if the company is going to remain on the property, it would be better if they moved to the center of the property where the company wants to go. “There are environmental issues I wish we could get resolved and that they would agree to and then let’s be done with it,” he said. “On environmental issues, I think some of the things we put out there are things they can live with.”
White said it was his opinion the city should be able to get what they want and Vulcan should be able to get what they want. “My opinion is if we allow them to go to center of property, there are things they should do to mitigate challenges out there. That’s what I would like to see happen,” he said. “Let them move and then let’s get things that help people in Windsor Park and other surrounding neighborhoods have better quality of life and minimize disturbances to all surrounding neighborhoods.”
Councilman Tom Taylor said he would be happy with a compromise with Vulcan if in fact they could put quantifiable enforceable numbers regarding noise from blasting and water flow that could be enforced regarding their work on the property.