Mining ordinance passes quietly

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Only one resident angry with process

By Chris Sardelli

Following a few brief comments, Lancaster County Council quickly finalized plans for a new mining district and the subsequent rezoning for thousands of acres of land, though the plan left a bad taste in one resident’s mouth.
At council’s April 8 meeting, members unanimously approved final reading of a two-part ordinance to establish a mining district classification within the county code and rezone almost 5,000 acres of Haile Gold Mine property in the southern end of the county.

In stark contrast to months of intense discussion by council members about the logistics of the ordinance, Councilman Larry Honeycutt was the only member to comment about the issue during the meeting.
Honeycutt was satisfied with the identification of all of Haile Gold Mine’s property and its various zoning designations and hoped the ordinance would end rumors that a landfill could be created on gold mine land.

“It doesn’t matter what it’s zoned, as long as we have the approval,” Honeycutt said.

Some residents had worried that since the area was zoned I-2, heavy industrial district, a landfill could potentially move in if the mining company ever moved out. But with its new mining designation, only mining operations will be allowed within the borders of that zone.

The second part of the ordinance allows the rezoning of 4,859.78 acres of Haile Gold Mine property from I-2  to the newly created M district. The rezoned properties are located a few miles east of the town of Kershaw and include parcels along Haile Gold Mine Highway (S.C. 601), Haile Gold Mine Road, Jefferson Highway (S.C. 265), Snowy Owl Road, Ernest Scott Road, Uriah Road and Enchantment Road.

About an hour before the vote, Flat Creek resident Danny Terry, who has appeared before council several times, once again voiced concerns about the gold mine operation in his community. He was the only person to speak about the ordinance during the citizens comments portion of the meeting.

Terry asked council to examine its previous voting procedures in regards to Haile Gold Mine.
“To my understanding, when there’s an ethics policy in place you all have an obligation to look into it. There have been people on council who voted for property to be rezoned who haven’t recused themselves for property in the Haile Gold Mine area,” Terry said. “That’s not appropriate. That’s wrong.”

He also disliked the rezoning, which he thinks could ultimately harm the environment and create “millions and millions and millions of gallons of toxic waste.”

“You just rezoned it to heavy industrial and there was no research and now you want to take it to M. This is new to us. We don’t understand it. What’s the difference between a landfill and a toxic waste dump? Not much,” Terry said. “And we’re willing to let them do that to Lancaster County. We should never let this happen to our state, our county, our people who live here.”

“The people who pocket this money go back to Canada and leave us to clean it up. There’s no logic. It creates nothing. We pay for it with our children’s lives. It makes no sense to me and it never will,” he said.
Council did not respond to Terry’s comments during the meeting.

Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416