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Meeting Set for Proposed Sand Mine

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — The owner of a 63-acre parcel has reignited an effort on a proposed sand-mining operation on Castle Hayne Road.

The owner, Hilton Properties LP, is requesting a conditional use rezoning of the parcel from rural agricultural to heavy industrial, however an application has not been submitted because county ordinance requires a community meeting be held first, according to WilmingtonBiz.

Stephen D. Coggins, applicant, on behalf of Hilton Properties LP, announced the meeting is at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 24, at St. James AME Church, 3425 Castle Hayne Road. The meeting was originally Sept. 19 but was rescheduled due to Hurricane Florence. These community meetings are held by the applicant. Until an official application has been submitted, questions should be directed to the applicant, per the county website.

Coggins told WilmingtonBiz last month that the new proposal was from the same owner for a similar operation proposed in the mid-2010s.

When the previous application for the sand mine went before the county, neighbors of the property during a December 2013 meeting raised concerns about the sand mine, including pollution from the neighboring GE Hitachi site where fuel for nuclear reactors was produced.

Coggins told the WilmingtonBiz last month that the state has issued a mining permit for the operation, which has been fairly recent. Coggins said in the article that the owners addressed pollution concerns involving groundwater contamination on General Electric’s property adjacent to the site.

The Port City Daily reported Friday that GE Hitachi released chemicals and heavy metals on its site when it produced fuel for nuclear reactors in the 1960s and 1970s. The chemicals ultimately contaminated the groundwater. As recently as 2012 at the GE site and offsite near the proposed mine, groundwater contained excess levels of several chemicals and heavy metals including uranium, chromium, fluoride and others, according to a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission report.

After DENR, now the state Department of Environmental Quality, issued Hilton Properties the mining permit, 14 residents in the nearby Wooden Shoe community and seven others filed a lawsuit. The suit alleged DENR issued the permit without consideration of the property’s alignment with GE’s status as an Inactive Hazardous Waste Site. The suit never was followed through because of a lack of legal representation and the property was never rezoned.

At the February 2014 planning meeting, the submission was continued for 60 days and eventually withdrawn.

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The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.