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County into zoning battle with rock crusher

By ZOË HAGGARD - zhaggard@t-g.com
Posted 6/25/22

The County may be entering a legal battle over a rock crusher operation off U.S. 231 they say may be illegal, which is owned by Hollingshead Materials, LLC in the Deason area. 

Commissioner …

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County into zoning battle with rock crusher

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The County may be entering a legal battle over a rock crusher operation off U.S. 231 they say may be illegal, which is owned by Hollingshead Materials, LLC in the Deason area. 

Commissioner Greg Vick said he had a number of calls about this situation that had evolved on Squire Hall Road. After investigating, County Zoning Director Chris White issued a notice to cease and desist at the beginning of June. 

The letter reads, “On behalf of the Bedford County Office of Planning & Zoning, we hereby demand that you immediately cease and desist from any activity relating to rock harvesting, or the disturbance of lands . . . .” 

It continues, “It had come to our attention that you intend to pursue a rock quarrying operation at this location and have thus moved equipment used for that purpose to the site and have begun making physical alterations at the site to accommodate that intended unlawful land use.” 

Vick asked White a series of questions at Tuesday evening’s Rules & Legislative Committee meeting, concluding that the rock crusher, which is being used commercially, is not legally zoned for that area. 

The County does have an ordinance for a rock crusher which requires a county zoning permit, parts of a state permit, and a wastewater permit to operate, according to White. The Hollingshead company does not have any of these permits, according to White. 

“I’d been hearing about this for quite some time as far as what their intentions were, and we believe the intentions of the owner were to move forward without even consulting the zoning office. But I chose to wait until I saw something happening,” White said. 

He explained that that “something” was the Hollingshead company moving a portable rock crusher onto the site. “They actually had the highway blocked for about an hour,” said White. 

A rock crusher can be used for personal, in-county use, but not commercial use, with material being transported outside the county. 

“So, based on what this deed says, I do not believe Hollingshead Materials, LLC is an individual,” Vick said. LLC stands for limited liability company. 

The company is owned by Smyrna ReadyMix, which is one of the top concrete companies in the nation. 

While investigating the rock crusher site, White said, “The dozer operator told us that they were there to store commercial equipment for Smyrna ReadyMix. Of course, it’s not zoned 

commercial. So not only can they not operate a rock crusher, but they can’t use it to store commercial machinery.” 

The Hollingshead company has purchased 116 acres for $2.1 million on Squire Hall Road that is zoned for agriculture use. A rock crusher cannot be on agriculturally-zoned plots, according to White. 

White said the Hollingshead company is taking a “grandfathered use” approach in their defense. However, the small, quarried site on which the company sits, has not been in operation for roughly 30 years, White explained. 

“...It was used when TDOT widened U.S. 231 to four lanes, about that long ago,” he said. White said if that use of a rock quarry ceases to exist in 30 months without a renewal, then there is no grandfather use. 

There are other rock-related companies on Squire Hall Road. 

White explained that Rogers Group Deason Quarry is a fully legal and operational stone quarry. However, they are not zoned industrial. 

“They are instead enjoying a grandfathered non-conforming land use, as they opened prior to Bedford County adopting its zoning resolution,” White said. 

Hawkins Asphalt Paving, LLC is a fully legal and operational asphalt plant that is located on a parcel adjoining the Rogers Group Quarry, according to White. That parcel was rezoned to M-1 (general industrial) around seven years ago. 

White said the Hollingshead company has hired attorney Thomas White. Tune, Entrekin & White, P.C. in Nashville represent rock quarries, concrete and paving companies throughout the Mid-South area. 

“So, we have a multi-million-dollar company represented by a top attorney that is now going to gauge their services, and so we have to make a decision here. Do we have rules and zoning ordinances, are we going to enforce them or not?” said Vick. 

Commissioner Biff Farrar said, “Oh, we’re going to force them. And it’s going to cost money to enforce them, but that’s just the way that it is. They can’t just come in here and do whatever they want just because they’re a multi-million-dollar business.” 

In addition to getting permits, Hollingshead has to go before the Planning and Zoning Commission who will give the rezoning request a favorable or unfavorable recommendation. It would then go before the Rules and Legislative Committee and eventually the Board of Commissioners to be voted on. 

The Times-Gazette reached out to Mike Hollingshead but has yet to hear back for comment. T-G will continue to monitor this situation. 

Other discussions 

Commissioner Farrar also raised concerns over receiving the 2022-23 County Budget request book a week after the June 7 budget meeting. 

“I’ve been on the Rules and Legisative Committee for 20 years. I’ve never not been able to ask our finance director a question until this year,” Farrar said, saying he did not have time to go over the budget and that before he received the budget book in the last week of May. “And I have a lot of questions that need to be answered.” 

“I’m just criticizing the process,” Farrar said. 

Finance director Robert Daniel said, “We didn’t have a book prepared until just before the commission meeting [on June 14]. But that’s typically what we do is give it out at the commission meeting and then they have several weeks to study it before the final approval.” 

Daniel said they did not get information from the State, concerning the new TISA school funding formula and insurance rates, until the last minute, which is another reason why they did not get the books out until the commission meeting. 

A meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on June 28 at the Bedford County Courthouse, prior to the 7 p.m. Board of Commissioners meeting, where commissioners can ask questions about the budget. It is a public meeting. 

Dead-end speeders 

Commissioner Anita Epperson’s request to set the speed limit for dead-end roads Coleman Harvey Lane and Thompson Lane to 30 mph was deferred by 30 days. Epperson lives on Coleman Harvey Lane and says her neighbors also wanted to see the speed limit set at 30 mph. Speed limits are not marked on that road. 

“I just hate to start seeing us legislating that much...I don’t think it’s necessary,” said Farrar. “It’s a law enforcement issue.” 

Other commissioners present said Epperson would be “opening a can of worms” with this request and needed more formal evidence, such as statistical data from the Sheriff’s Department, that show a 30-mph speed zone was necessary for those roads. Epperson said she did not know of many accidents happening on those roads. 

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