Officials from General Shale, a brick making company, came to their plant in Somerset bearing some bad news. The plant will be closing. They blame a state Supreme Court decision which overturned a special-use permit given to the company to dig an open-pit mine.
The pit would have bitten off an 89 acre piece of a 139acre parcel along Old Barboursville Rd. in Barboursville. Residents calling themselves "Friends of Barboursville" went to the court and protested, 'not in my backyard!'
"This doesn't belong in a neighborhood," said Gloria Williams, a member of the Friends of Barboursville. "It belongs where it is. We have no problem with that, but we certainly don't like them trying to move it into our residences and this farm is totally surrounded by people."
Residents have a list of complaints which range from harmful health effects to dump trucks coming to and from every five minutes.
"The noise, the dust, and the activity would have been visible from three public road and I don't want to encounter 3,400 trucks every time I come 'outta my driveway each year," said Lucy Colby, whose property is 2,000 feet away from the proposed mine site.
The company said they needed a new mining site to stay in business because the current one didn't have enough raw materials. General Shale is the 8th largest employer in Orange County. The Orange County Board of Supervisors regrets the job loss.
Residents say they are tired of being a scapegoat for the plant closing.
"I am a little tired of hearing that the FOB are responsible for closing the mine," said Williams. "We never tried to do anything to harm those employees but what we tried to do so desperately was to try to convince General Shale to find their shale somewhere else than in the middle of our neighborhood."
Colby added that General Shale could have dug their mine in other viable areas. The company has opened or acquired 14 distribution centers over the past six years. They said that the plant closure was a business decision because it was no longer economically viable to invest in a plant there.
The company plans to close the plant in the second half of the year.