A ruling last week by the North Carolina Supreme Court should provide some clarity on a sand-mining operation planned for the Philadelphus community near Red Springs — and more clarity should be coming soon.
The high court denied a request by Philadelphus Presbyterian Foundation Inc., which opposes the project, for a discretionary review of the project. The foundation says the mining operation will intrude on the lives of existing property owners in the area, be a health hazard, be an eyesore in a beautiful and tranquil part of Robeson County and that its economic benefits have been purposely exaggerated in an effort to gain public support.
Buie Lakes Plantation, which plans to mine the sand that would be used to make solar panels, still has some permitting hurdles to clear, but its co-manager, Craig Brewer, sounds confident.
“I’m very happy with the decision,” Brewer told The Fayetteville Observer. “It seems we have a clear path to move forward now.”
County officials, including the Board of Commissioners and the County Manager’s Office, are all-in with Buie Lakes Plantation, confident that its promise of a $22 million facility that would generate about $200,000 a year in property taxes will indeed rise from the ground. Also promised are 35 badly needed jobs that would pay an average of $44,000 a year.
Critics — including Citizens for Integrity in Government, a group that sprouted in response to the planned project and also to express dissatisfaction with how county commissioners pay and provide benefits to themselves — say they don’t believe a processing plant will ever be constructed. Instead, they contend, the roads to and from the mining operation will be crowded with as many as 350 trucks a day hauling the sand to a plant in Scotland County to be processed. They say when that happens, the promised jobs and property taxes will be revealed as a ploy —and only a mess will be left behind.
We don’t know the truth.
We hope that county officials are correct on this, that the sand can be mined efficiently, the environment will not be forever scarred, we all can benefit from the property taxes and some of us will benefit from the created jobs and the strong wages that have been promised.