OPELIKA, Al. (WTVM) - When the Opelika City Hall Council Chambers is standing room only, Mayor Gary Fuller knows his residents are passionate about an issue facing their community.
The current controversy is the Creekwood Resources quarry plan.
“We are going to do whatever we can to prevent this quarry from happening,” said Fuller.
Creekwood Resources has applied to the Alabama Department of Environmental Management for a quarry site permit on County Road 168, just off of U.S. 431.
“Opelika is blessed with a lot of rock, which is why Creekwood Resources is eyeing this area,” said Opelika City Attorney Guy Hunter, III.
At a quarry, larger rocks are broken into smaller rocks, leaving behind large amounts of dust and pollution. Gunter and the ADEM have two main concerns. The first being how the dust will affect the community’s water.
“It could potentially disrupt existing surface and ground water, thereby reducing the quality of drinking water for residents and or wildlife," said Gunter.
“To have a quarry come in, and the danger of having all that sediment come down stream, it makes it really hard for us to do our jobs,” said Tipi Miller, the director of Keep Opelika Beautiful.
The second concern is air quality, specifically in relation to school recess and outside gym classes.
“One of the schools is about a mile and a half from this quarry site. There’s about 300 to 350 children who have PE outside every day, on beautiful days, who will be breathing in the air from this quarry. And that’s just a huge concern of ours," said Miller.
Fuller said there are additional elements residents should be weary of. “Noise, traffic, vibrations, property values, all those things come into play as well,” said Fuller.
If the permit is approved, Creekwood Resouces said the quarry will last about 50 years and create 20 new jobs.
ADEM said they are accepting petitions and letters to better understand residents’ concerns.
“We can do anything. We need to get letters out to ADEM. We have 33,000 people here in Opelika city limits, and we need to get 33,000 letters down to ADEM,” said Opelika resident Vondalyn Hall.