Quarry plan raises Trail of Tears worry

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - ARKANSAS - MIKE JONES

BEN­TONVILLE — The Chero­kee Na­tion and Trail of Tears As­so­ci­a­tion are con­cerned about a pro­posed lime­stone quarry that would be 900 feet from a sec­tion of the trail, ac­cord­ing to let­ters from both.

Ben­ton County’s Plan­ning Board voted 6-1 to ta­ble the project in­def­i­nitely at a meet­ing Dec. 19. The board wanted more in­for­ma­tion con­cern­ing the Trail of Tears and whether the area has any other his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance. The board also tabled the pro­posal Nov. 7 and Dec. 5 be­cause more in­for­ma­tion was needed from the ap­pli­cant. Red dirt is taken from the Cross Hol­lows mine at 1425 N. Old Wire Road. The area is just north­east of Low­ell. Parts of the 135 acres owned by David Cov­ing­ton are laid out in sec­tions of 10 acres. Each 10-acre par­cel rep­re­sents a five-year op­er­at­ing pe­riod for the pro­posed lime­stone pro­duc­tion, ac­cord­ing to the Plan­ning Depart­ment’s ex­ec­u­tive sum­mary on the project.

An­chor Stone from Tulsa would lease the land and quarry the stone.

“The seg­ment of the Trail of Tears Na­tional His­toric Trail at the Cross Hol­lows

● Con­tin­ued from Page 1B site in Low­ell is a rare gem in the Arkansas land­scape,” reads the let­ter from Jack D. Baker, pres­i­dent of the na­tional Trail of Tears As­so­ci­a­tion.

“It has ex­cel­lent in­tegrity and re­tains the phys­i­cal char­ac­ter­is­tics of an early 19th cen­tury roadbed. Be­cause of these at­tributes, this seg­ment of the Chero­kee Re­moval Route is listed in the Na­tional Regis­ter of His­toric Places. The same roadbed is also as­so­ci­ated with the But­ter­field Trail and the Civil War.”

Baker’s let­ter dated Dec. 1 says the trail seg­ment is 900 feet from the pro­posed project and, “the project’s ac­cess not only crosses the trail, but in­cludes this seg­ment for trans­port­ing ma­te­rial from the project site.”

Tay­lor Reamer, Ben­ton County plan­ning di­rec­tor, re­ceived the let­ter Dec. 3.

Baker’s let­ter says the as­so­ci­a­tion and the Chero­kee Na­tion rec­om­mend that the ap­pli­cant do a cul­tural re­sources sur­vey, “which will con­sider po­ten­tial di­rect and in­di­rect ef­fects if a lime­stone quarry is al­lowed.”

A let­ter from the Chero­kee Na­tion to Reamer stressed many of the same points as Baker’s.

“The State of Arkansas has an op­por­tu­nity to con­sider and pro­tect a sig­nif­i­cant and his­toric re­source,” El­iz­abeth Toombs, tribal his­toric preser­va­tion of­fi­cer, wrote in a Nov. 30 let­ter. Reamer re­ceived the let­ter the same day. The let­ters from Baker and the Chero­kee Na­tion were avail­able to the Plan­ning Board at its Dec. 19 meet­ing. The Chero­kee Na­tion doc­u­ment was also avail­able for the Dec. 5 Plan­ning Board meet­ing be­cause it was sub­mit­ted on the sup­ple­men­tal in­for­ma­tion dead­line of Nov. 30, Reamer said.

A let­ter dated Nov. 30 from Pre­serve Arkansas Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Rachel Pat­ton to Reamer backed the Chero­kees’ con­cern.

“Cross Hol­lows is his­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant for many rea­sons and is sa­cred to the Chero­kee, whose an­ces­tors trav­eled along the path of the Old Wire Road as they neared the end of their jour­ney to In­dian Ter­ri­tory,” the let­ter reads.

The trail com­mem­o­rates

the forced re­moval of the Chero­kee from the south­east­ern United States to In­dian Ter­ri­tory in present-day Ok­la­homa in 1838 and 1839, ac­cord­ing to the Trail of Tears As­so­ci­a­tion web­site.

The Chero­kee Na­tion’s ju­ris­dic­tion cov­ers 14 coun­ties in north­east­ern Ok­la­homa, ac­cord­ing to its web­site.

Reamer said the ap­pli­cant needs to com­plete a road agree­ment, a his­tor­i­cal and cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance study, a pri­vate drink­ing wa­ter source war­ranty and an en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact as­sess­ment.

Bill Watkins, the at­tor­ney for Cov­ing­ton, said the items listed by Reamer are be­ing worked on. Watkins said he hoped the quarry pro­posal would be back be­fore the Plan­ning Board in a few months.

“Our goal is to keep this thing mov­ing,” he said.

Watkins said at the Dec. 19 meet­ing the plan­ners’ job is to make sure reg­u­la­tions and pro­ce­dures are fol­lowed and their de­ci­sions shouldn’t be im­pacted by pol­i­tics or pub­lic sen­ti­ment.

Many res­i­dents who live in the area have ex­pressed con­cerns about pos­si­ble well wa­ter con­tam­i­na­tion, noise

from blast­ing and in­creased heavy truck traf­fic on Old Wire Road to the Plan­ning Board and through email and phone calls to the Ben­ton County Plan­ning Depart­ment and County Judge Barry Moehring’s of­fice.

Low­ell’s City Coun­cil ap­proved a res­o­lu­tion in De­cem­ber op­pos­ing the quarry.

Watkins said at the Dec. 19 meet­ing the prop­erty has been used as a lime­stone quarry and other min­ing.

“His­tor­i­cally, this prop­erty has been a source of nat­u­ral re­sources,” he said.

It’s es­ti­mated 35 to 50 dump trucks a day would haul lime­stone from the quarry, de­pend­ing on the size and lo­ca­tion of a par­tic­u­lar project, Tim Sorey with Sand Creek En­gi­neer­ing said. Sand Creek rep­re­sents An­chor Stone at the Plan­ning Board meet­ings. A loaded truck would weigh more than 20 tons, Sorey said. The lime­stone would be used for area road work.

A rock crusher and blast­ing are part of the project, ac­cord­ing to plan­ning doc­u­ments. Blast­ing would be done once a month. Blast­ing usu­ally hap­pens in the late morn­ing or early af­ter­noon, Sorey said.

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