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Bill aimed at blocking quarry stalled

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Posted: Thursday, May 2, 2013 4:44 pm | Updated: 8:09 pm, Mon May 20, 2013.

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAAYTV)- Despite the efforts of the Madison County Delegation, two bills aimed at stopping a rock quarry from opening near the town of Gurley, have all but died.  

Senate bill 457 AND House bill 230 are similar, both would block rock quarries from opening within 2.5 miles of a school and both have stalled in the legislature.

“It did kindly surprise me the lack of support I got on my bill,” said Representative Wayne Johnson (R- District 22) . He sponsored the bill aimed at stopping Vulcan from opening a quarry on Highway 72 near Madison County Elementary and Madison County High School.

I didn't get a vote to give it a favorable report so instead of killing my bill they carried it over and when they carried it over I have not been able to get it back in front of that committee,” Johnson explained.

A House rule classified the bill as environmental meaning it could not be presented as local legislation.

“I had to try to suspend the rules to get it on the house floor or in committee and it got voted down just overwhelmingly,” said Johnson.

Huntsville attorney John Harrison has been working with the East Huntsville Madison County Civic Association to stop the quarry. He says the way the bill was presented made it all but impossible for it to be passed.

“It ends up getting submitted to the entire legislature and that is commonly a kiss of death for legislation,” he said. “We need action that can be taken by our representatives and leaders that can be treated as local legislation.”

But even if the bill was passed it wouldn't stop the Vulcan rock quarry from opening, work has already begun. What it might do is stop a potential concrete or asphalt plant from opening at the site. The group says the asphalt plant could cause damage to the environment.

With this bill likely dead, Johnson says he is not sure whether or not he will re-file next session.

“I will talk with the people in my community and the people that are involved with it, we will take a look at it and see which direction we need to go next year.”

Senator Shadrack McGill (R- District 8)  sponsored the senate version of the bill. He met with representatives from Vulcan and the Alabama Road builders Association Wednesday. Billy Norell, a member of the association, says his group is not in support of any bill that would limit economic growth.

“The further away from a site the trucks have to travel—costs go up and that cost is passed on. We will end up building fewer projects out,” he explained.

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