NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - A proposal to build a sand mine in Castle Hayne is generating a lot of questions and concerns from neighbors.
An informational meeting was held Friday, and many people said they left the meeting with more questions than answers.
"[I feel] no better than I did when I got here," said Steve Vosnock as he was leaving the meeting.
Landowner, Hilton Properties, wants to build a 63 acre sand mining operation on their 4,100 acre tract of land which is located off of Castle Hayne Road near GE. In order to do so, they need to re-zone the land from rural/agricultural to industrial.
"I'm not in favor of it because it will be a zoning change," said Vosnock. "We like the character of our community, which is RA zoned we have a lot of farmland, we have a lot of wildlife, a lot of forest and as a community we've fought hard to get the RA zoning and we want to keep it, if it gets breached that will just be the beginning."
Many at the meeting worried that if the change is allowed, there will be more mining operations and industry growth in the area will continue.
"This is just the beginning and I got nothing from this meeting that showed us anything different," said Vosnock.
Like others at the meeting, he said the landowners weren't able to answer many of the questions they had. He said questions like, "What would daily operations look like? How deep would they mine for sand? How long would the project take? Would their be other projects?" were not able to be answered.
"They didn't know the answer to the depth of the mine, and they didn't know how much sand was going to come out of it, and what they were going to do afterwards and you don't start a project of this size without knowing these things, I have a hard time believing that what they said was the truth," said Vosnock.
David Fort, with Hilton Properties, said they were "blind sided" by all of the questions and claim they didn't have many answers in front of them.
"We were, in being new in this, blind sided by the community outreach, we want everybody to be happy with what we are doing and understand what we are doing we are not trying to hide anything we want to be up front with everyone and try to address all questions," said Fort.
He said they wanted to mine to help offset the cost of owning 4,100 acres and says he sees the mining as a positive.
"We would be helping with the expansion of New Hanover County by helping with building projects that need the, I mean I think sand is, I wouldn't say a desperate need, but there is a need for sand in the area, so we could be providing that to the county," said Fort.
Vosnock said he will be requesting another meeting so that their questions will be answered. Hilton Properties said they will try to comply.
The next step is for the zoning change proposal to go before the New Hanover County Planning Board.
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