Earlysville Quarry is Back in Business, Noisily

Thirty-five years after it was closed down, a quarry just off 29N is back in business, Aaron Richardson writes in the Daily Progress, and the neighbors aren’t thrilled. Imagine you’re driving north on 29, past Walmart and over the Rivanna. There’s a traffic light there, for Polo Grounds Road, on the right. You can turn left, but virtually nobody does. That’s Rio Mills Road. I drove down there for the first time maybe five years ago. It’s a little-maintained road that runs right past a quarry. (Here’s a map of its location.) That quarry has been abandoned since 1975, but a Roanoke-based company has bought it, and they’ve got it back in business. Rockydale Quarries informed folks who live right around there that they were going to resume blasting and quarrying, but not everybody’s happy about it. The county has checked to see if the sound of their work exceeds the noise ordinance, but it falls within it. The property has a permit for the work going back to 1965, and the land is zoned for heavy industry. Still, some of the neighbors have asked the Board of Supervisors to shut down the business, asking that they review the permits and environmental impact, presumably hoping to find some irregularity.

I suspect that the moral of the story will be that if you want peace and quiet, you shouldn’t build or buy a house near a quarry on land that’s zoned for heavy industry.

15 thoughts on “Earlysville Quarry is Back in Business, Noisily”

  1. I used to practice rappelling and high-angle rescue ropework in that quarry in the early 80s. That big, sheer cliff at the north end is a lot of fun.

  2. Thanks for the heads up about this. I think more people (including myself) started to use Rio Mills Road as a shortcut out to Earlysville when the gas prices started going up and speed limit was decreased on US29. With the additional use, the county has struggled to keep up with grading the gravel road.

    I’ve been trying to think of a way to suggest how improving this road could be somehow incorporated into the bypass northern terminus. Perhaps with the new industrial traffic, they will consider paving it from the quarry entrance (near the top of the hill out to the light at US29. Looking over the previous bypass plan (posted here on July 13), maybe the plan could include an “exit” onto a paved Rio Mills Road to take traffic directly onto Earlysville Road and to the airport.

    I’d be interested to see if any other Earlysville residents or US29N commuters have thought about this.

  3. That quarry was/is the perfect spot to process the spoils created by dredging the reservoir. The fact that Dr. Hurt owned it and has since sold it tells me that dredging will never happen. Now it appears to be the perfect spot to source aggregate for the bypass, if that’s built. Or maybe its in the path of that road and the new owners think they’ll get more in a condemnation proceeding if its an operating business rather than a dormant one?

  4. I feel badly for people who live near there but it’s the same as a government taking to down zone property from a approved use in many cases. It’s been used as a quarry for almost 50 years and zoned heavy industry (I have a feeling there is very little of that zoning in many places in Albemarle).

    If they think it’s bad now wait till they start building the bypass that will use the quarry’s product and the road itself will come very close to their property as well.

    If you don’t research your property when coming to a new location many unexpected things can happen. I met someone who bought next to the bypass route and said “I never thought that would be built”. They can certainly be disappointed but can they really be outraged?

  5. One would have to wonder who zoned and built a residential area next to an area zoned heavy industrial.

    I’d be pissed if I lived there, thankfully I don’t. And I won’t be surprised if there aren’t lawsuits to realtors, home builders, former property owners, the county, the quarry, everyone involved.

  6. This paragraph in the DP article was fairly enlightening:

    “It’s up to Rockydale Quarry to alleviate the noise. I’ve asked [Willis] to step up. I want to find a happy medium so that the business can run and be a viable business and pay taxes to the county, but I also want the residents to be happy,” Thomas said. “These are good people that own this quarry, and they’re good people that live around there, and not just as constituents, these are my friends.”

    KEY PHRASE: “these are my friends”

  7. I feel badly for people who live near there

    That’s an important point that I thought, but didn’t actually put in writing. Yes, it’s true that they should have thought this through before they moved near a quarry, but I can also appreciate that they probably thought that it wouldn’t be a problem, figured they were far away, that it wouldn’t open again, etc., and now they’ve got a house by a noisy quarry. That’s got to be frustrating.

    One would have to wonder who zoned and built a residential area next to an area zoned heavy industrial.

    That hadn’t crossed my mind but, yes, that does seem like a fairly bad zoning decision.

  8. From the Albemarle County Biodiversity Report:

    South Rivanna Dam Area 1-2. Two areas adjacent to the South Fork Rivanna River Dam are of interest. An abandoned quarry north of the dam is the site of two ferns rare in Albemarle County, Lycopodiella appressa (southern bog clubmoss) and Lycopodiella inundata (northern bog clubmoss), with the possibility of a hybrid of these. Also the unusual Utricularia gibba* (bladderwort) is found as the second Albemarle station. Near the base of the dam, the rare Triadenum walteri (Walter’s St. Johns- wort), Sagittaria graminea (grass-leaved arrow-head), and Amorpha fruticosa ( indigo) are found. (USGS Quadrangle: Charlottesville East)

    Many attempts were made to request that the owners work with local agencies to mitigate impacts to these species, or allow a rescue, and were basically told “no way”. Under such circumstances, I wish localities had the option to refuse to consider them for contracts (meaning they’d be ineligible to provide gravel for the MCP or Bypass).

    *Note this is the only reported occurance of a carnivorous plant in Albemarle County.

  9. If they’ll allow a transplant of the exceptional species of plants then I’m not really opposed to this. Sounds like some jobs should be created.

    We should bear in mind that everything that we as a society have comes out of the ground or down from the sky. If we like having roads to drive on, gravel to drive on and concrete to build with then there have to be quarries.

  10. Another county neighborhood that will also wish we had a dredging alternative, instead of a dam/pipeline plan, will be Ednam Forest.

    To build the earthen dam and concrete spillway ( a separate structure), a quarry is part of the plan, to be located on site at Ragged Mountain Natural Area. Now the folks at Ednam have a beautiful Natural Preserve in their back forty, soon to be the site of blasting and quarrying for aggregate. People don’t realize that earthen as it relates to this dam is a misnomer, there is still a great deal of aggregate that will be needed. That means noise, blasting, dust and all the headaches that folks near the Rivanna quarry are experiencing.

  11. “One would have to wonder who zoned and built a residential area next to an area zoned heavy industrial.” I would imagine that the owner of the currently residential property requested the re-zoning from probably agricultural uses. The new homeowners should have bought the quarry long ago so that they could control its future. It is important that people check with the local zoning administrator BEFORE purchasing any property. Not only may she may be able to inform you of current allowed uses, she may tell you about past uses (dumps) and future proposed uses (dumps or dams).
    @Dirt Worshipper, those plants you are talking about do not seem to live profusely in its current habitat. This leads me to believe they may not adopt well to other habitats in the region for mitigation purposes. Am I right?

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