Citing “adverse effects” on various water bodies and sources, including well water, ground water and the Tuckasegee River, the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources turned down a mining permit for the Carolina Boulder and Stone Mine in the rural Tuckasegee community in Jackson County — on a 56.77-acre site off N.C. Highway 251, in proximity to the Tuckasegee River. The river, noted the denial letter, “is a federally designated critical habitat for the endangered Appalachian Elktoe Mussel and is also a quality hatchery supported trout stream.” Inadequate planning for slope stability to prevent rock falls or landslides and resultant sedimentation was mentioned as potentially severely impacting water quality and wildlife habitat.
Residents of the rural residential community had contested the permit in a process that has gone on for over 18 months and garnered 1,500 signatures to be delivered to the Jackson County Board of Commissioners. Forming United Neighbors of Tuckasegee, the community members studied the state’s mining regulations and standards and arranged expert testimony on wildlife and water issues, Native American archeological sites and other concerns.
“All of these issues were cited in their rejection” of the permit, UNOT representative Thomas Crowe told Xpress by e-mail, calling the permit denial “rare” and a major victory. “A small, rural community stood up and stopped a Florida developer (James VanderWoude) and his deep pockets business friends,” said Crowe.
Carolina Boulder and Stone LLC has up to 30 days from the date of the denial (Nov. 6) to appeal the DENR ruling. Xpress has been unable to reach a company representative for comment.
— Nelda Holder, associate editor