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Flowery Branch quarry seeks to add 6 acres
Adjacent property owners approached Lafarge
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Public hearing

What: Annexation/rezoning request by Lafarge Southeast Aggregates
When: 6 p.m. Feb. 16
Where: Flowery Branch City Hall, 5517 Main St.
Contact: 770-967-6371

Lafarge Southeast Aggregates is seeking to add 6.45 acres to its Flowery Branch operation, so the quarry can shore up its southwestern buffer and finish mining a corner of the existing property.

The company at 4195 Friendship Road is seeking a rezoning and annexation of the property at the Flowery Branch City Council's Feb. 16 meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 5517 Main St.

A single-family home now occupying the property would be "removed over time," according to the legal notice on the request. "Following removal of the home, the property will be incorporated into the existing quarry operation."

A public hearing is set on the matter at the Feb. 16 meeting, along with a first vote by City Council. A final vote on the matter is set for Feb. 20.

"The conditions on the 6 acres would be the same that are on our (adjacent) property today," said Richard Tyler, Lafarge's director of land management. "There's no change in anything as it relates to our operating and our requirements with the city."

The move also would straighten out property lines.

"It's very inefficient for a quarry to have jagged edges," Tyler said Sunday.

Lafarge, bounded by Friendship, Blackjack and Swansey roads, has been in Flowery Branch since a 2006 annexation, with the site serving as the South Hall city's southernmost city limits.

This latest request came about after Lafarge "was approached by adjacent property owners about purchasing a portion of the property," Tyler said. "We evaluated it and decided it could make sense for us to do that, so we worked out an arrangement with them."

Flowery Branch officials "decided wisely to promote and advertise this (request) by putting up (public-notice) signs all around the quarry, so that everyone has the opportunity to be aware of it," Tyler said.

"What we've tried to do is make sure people have correct information. We are not asking for or looking for any change of operating hours, any change in blasting, anything that doesn't currently apply to us."

Lafarge has discussed the matter in community meetings and phone calls with neighbors, "and nobody has had any issues with it," Tyler said.

In addition, the company is seeking a rezoning of the 373.85-acre property to a heavy manufacturing and industrial category from light manufacturing and industrial.

That move is to line up with the manufacturing/industrial zoning changes the city made last year, City Planner James Riker said.

The city only had one manufacturing category when Lafarge became part of the city. Last year, the council moved to split light and heavy manufacturing/industrial uses into separate categories.

The quarry's operation includes mineral extraction, asphalt production, concrete manufacturing, buffers and berms, according to the city.

Riker said the company has asked if it could submit a noise study every three years or as otherwise required by the city, instead of annually. The request is based on activity slowing at the quarry, he said.

Business has "suffered quite a bit" in the economic downturn, Tyler said.

"We are heavily dependent on construction markets and ... that business is down dramatically," he said.