GREENFIELD — Nearly 100 people packed the meeting room, filling chairs and standing against the back wall, to speak against a plan to turn 76 acres near Maxwell into a gravel extraction operation.
Residents of the small Hancock County town are already subject to construction noise from County Materials Corp., a Maxwell-based concrete manufacturer, they said. Adding the noise and traffic from a gravel pit would worsen conditions in the unincorporated community north of Greenfield, residents told the Hancock County Area Plan Commission, which oversees the land use, permitting and zoning for the county.
The commission decided to recommend against the project, sending that decision along to the Hancock County Board of Commissioners, who will take up the issue at their meeting later this month.
The plan commission heard the request from Maxwell Land Investments on Tuesday night to allow the first steps to turning the land into a gravel mining operation. Maxwell residents and an attorney representing them voiced their concerns during the meeting at the Hancock County Courthouse Annex.
Maxwell Land Investments owns about 200 acres near County Road 550N and State Road 9 and proposed a 10- to 12-year operation to extract gravel from the land, creating three lakes and leaving the land suitable for residential development later, said Mike Dale, county building and planning departments executive director.
Michael Foley, an attorney for Maxwell Land Investments, said the company would create mounds around the perimeter of the property to reduce the disruption to the surrounding community.
The business would add about 60 trucks per day to the traffic flow near County Road 550N and State Road 9. Foley estimated it would be a .2 percent increase in traffic on State Road 9, which sees use by some 27,000 vehicles per day.
The long-term goal of the business is to improve the property value of the land and its surroundings, Foley said.
Maxwell and nearby residents said the rumored gravel extraction project is already affecting their land values and creating difficulties.
The plan commission received some 15 letters in opposition to the project, and attorney Donald Kerrigan presented a petition signed by more than 120 people in opposition to the plan, saying the mineral extraction would be bad for the neighborhood because of increased traffic, reduced property values and a variety of other concerns.
Lori Maynard, who lives on State Road 9 about 1,000 feet south of County Road 550N, said she’s been trying to sell her home since June. She fears no one will want to purchase a home so close to a concrete plant and a gravel extraction business, she told the commission.
Shawn Pulley and his wife recently purchased several acres of land on County Road 550N with the intention of building a home there next year, he said. He doubts the land owned by Maxwell Land Investments will be fit for residential development after a decade of trucks compacting the ground, he said.
Mike Shumaker, one owner of Maxwell Land Investments, acknowledged his proposed project is unpopular with surrounding residents. He thanked the commission for considering the project and added he believes the business will improve the land by the time it’s complete.
Dale recommended against approving the request, saying turning the 76 acres into a mining project would not be consistent with the county’s comprehensive plan, which envisions the area as staying mostly residential in the future with an emphasis on single-family housing.
Voting seven to one, the plan commission made an unfavorable recommendation to the county commissioners, who will next deliberate on the issue at 8 a.m. Oct. 31.
The Hancock County Board of Commissioners will consider the recommendation from the Hancock County Plan Commission regarding plans by Maxwell Land Investments to turn about 85 acres into a gravel extraction operation.
The board of commissioners next meets 8 a.m. Tuesday in the commissioners’ court, Hancock County Annex, 111 S. American Legion Place, Suite 219, Greenfield.