By Paul Gable
The decision on whether to allow RCPS Properties to expand its mining operations in the Carolina Forest area rests with Horry County Council at its December 18, 2012 meeting.
The county’s Infrastructure and Regulation Committee voted earlier this week to send forward a resolution to full council recommending approval of an application to expand by RCPS Properties.
According to members of the I&R Committee, the RCPS Properties request meets and/or exceeds all county requirements for mining.
There has been some resistance to approval from Carolina Forest residents with most complaints citing traffic congestion in the Myrtle Ridge Drive/U.S. 501 area.
However, approval of the expansion will not necessarily mean increased traffic, according to RCPS general manager Justin Harris.
“We are not looking to increase the amount of fill dirt leaving the mine,” said Harris. “We are looking to increase the area from which we can mine the dirt.”
Although approval of the county resolution would expand the footprint of the mine to 301 acres, Harris said some of that land is wetlands that cannot be mined and there are no plans to expand mining volume.
Harris said RCPS Properties loads about 100 trucks per day, on average, with its current operations. That dirt is used on a variety of public and private projects around the county including the U.S. 17 Bypass project by the back gate of the former Air Force Base and the widening of Hwy 707.
The mining operation has been owned RCPS Properties since 1996 and operates on an expanse of land behind Dunkin Donuts and Sparks Toyota, which has been mined since the 1950’s.
Much of the opposition to the mine expansion comes from the experience over the last several years with the Cottonpatch mining operation off of Gardner Lacy Road. The two mining operations have completely different ownership and are not related in any way.
Harris invited the general public to an open house at the mine in September. A presentation followed by a question and answer session was held with all interested parties.
“We want everyone to make an informed decision about the project based on its merits,” said Harris. “We are trying to be totally open about what we want to do and want to work with the community to be good neighbors.”
Despite the opposition of some homeowners in the area on the opposite side of U.S. 501 from the mine, council is expected to approve the resolution.
A public hearing on the resolution will precede the vote by council.