Scaled-back sand pit gets planning board’s OK

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 12, 2007

COURTLAND—Over the objections of a group of Sebrell residents, Southampton’s Planning Commission voted Thursday to recommend that the county allow a sand pit to operate on property off of River Road in Sebrell.

Setting limits on the facility’s hours and days of operation, as well as the number of acres on the 843-acre property that could be devoted to the sand mining operation, commissioners voted 7-1 to recommend granting a conditional use permit.

This was the second meeting in which the Sebrell sand pit was discussed. Planners tabled consideration of the matter during their September meeting, after several citizens complained that the operation would impinge on safety in the tiny community.

Despite the fact that Thursday’s meeting was not a public hearing, several citizens spoke in opposition to the plan. Once again, their theme was public safety on Sebrell’s narrow roads.

&uot;Someone’s going to get hurt,&uot; one resident predicted.

The roads of Sebrell &uot;haven’t changed much in 175 years,&uot; added resident Tommy Simmons, who said he lives in a house in the community that dates back more than six generations. &uot;The only significant changes made to this thoroughfare is the addition of a hard surface.&uot;

Simmons warned of the potential for crashes involving dump trucks and school buses trying to pass each other on portions of the road that are as narrow as 14 feet. Children who play near or on the road also would be in danger, he said.

The Sebrell Civic Club had voted unanimously &uot;to oppose the routing of dump trucks through our community,&uot; another speaker told commissioners. &uot;We did not oppose the borrow pit. It’s about the trucks.&uot;

Mike Marks, Robert Marks, Robert H. Pope and Jerry Flowers, owners of the Little Farm, which would host the sand pit, scaled back their request on Thursday to match the number of acres they actually intend to mine. Their amended request seeks a conditional use permit for just 8.14 acres.

That limited area made the request somewhat more palatable for commissioners, who noted that the smaller size would be a self-limiting factor in regards to the length of time the permit would be valid.

&uot;This is a tough one,&uot; Commissioner Michael G. Drake said of the request. &uot;My roots go deep in this county, too, but (a sand pit) is allowed in this area.&uot;

A motion by Ira &uot;Pete&uot; Barham to recommend that the Board of Supervisors grant the conditional use permit was approved by a 7-1 vote.

Supervisors will hold a public hearing on the request in November.