Quarry owner wants berm ruling overturned

Posted: February 4, 2013

The Winchester Star

BERRYVILLE — The owner of the Stuart Perry Quarry in Clarke County is asking a circuit court judge to overturn a 2012 ruling by the county’s Board of Zoning Appeals to remove a berm on the quarry’s western edge.

At a hearing last May, the BZA unanimously overturned an earlier decision by Clarke County Zoning Administrator Jesse Russell after adjoining landowner Peter Dunning complained that the 50-foot tall earthen berm, within 25 feet of his property line, violated a special-use permit the quarry got in 1995.

The case will be heard Feb. 20.

The dispute revolves around the permit, which was issued 17 years ago when the mining operation on Quarry Road sought to add an asphalt production facility to its gravel operations.

Russell said the county took the opportunity to add some restrictions to the quarrying operations to protect neighboring landowners.

One of those restrictions banned mining operations within 300 feet of the quarry’s property line.

The county also asked for berms on Quarry Road at the entrance to the operation and parallel to Harry Byrd Highway (Va. 7).

Dunning’s Concert Lane property borders the quarry along its western boundary line.

Three years ago, the quarry began creating a new berm, south from the end of the one on Va. 7, and headed toward Dunning’s home.

Tons of earth began to mound up, just 25 feet from his property line, and it was soon looming over his house.

Dunning asked Russell to determine if the berm was a violation of the county-approved site plan, which does not show a berm in that area.

Russell said berms were never addressed in the county site plan, other than on Quarry Road and Va. 7, because state mining regulations call for either a berm or a fence to screen such operations.

State rules also ban mining operations within 25 feet of an adjoining property line.

Because the county had no definition of mining operation, Russell said he could not rule that moving material for the berm from the quarrying site to the property line, was a violation of the 300-foot buffer zone.

Dunning took his complaint to the BZA, which agreed that the berm was a violation of the county’s permit.

The BZA members unanimously backed member Laurie Volk’s opinion that the state definition of mining would cover the removal of soil and rock to get to the limestone in the quarry. That “overburden” is being used to build the berm.

Trucking that material closer than 300 feet to the neighbor’s property would be a violation of the county’s 300-foot restriction line for mining operations, she reasoned.

Eight months later, quarry owner Denny Perry has decided to test that opinion in the courts.

— Contact Val Van Meter at vvanmeter@winchesterstar.com