Nashville’s Metro Council voted Tuesday to restrict quarries across Davidson County, keeping mines at least 2,000 feet from schools and parks and 1,250 feet from homes.
The long-simmering controversy about a quarry in Old Hickory led to an uneventful council vote. With no debate, the members approved the buffer.
Yet the Old Hickory mining proposal that first raised fears will not have to abide by the rule. It was already grandfathered in before the council voted, said Metro Law Director Jon Cooper.
“It is our position that under both common law and the Tennessee Vested Rights Act, a court would likely find that their rights are vested,” he said.
That opinion gives Councilman Larry Hagar, who tried to intervene for residents, only a partial victory.
“It’s not a perfect bill because there’s always going to be over-blasting and things of that nature at mineral extraction plants, but this is at least a start,” he said. “And these bills will offer some type of buffer zone, too, so people can enjoy a quality of life.”
Councilman Bob Mendes said that regardless of the Old Hickory situation, the changes make sense.
“For me, either way, I think that the intent of both these bills is to impact the entire county and I’m in favor of them because I think they’re good policy,” he said.
A similar restriction on asphalt and concrete plants — which are often located alongside the mines — also passed.
Cooper, the law director, said it’s more of an “open question” whether the proposed project in Old Hickory will need to abide by the processing buffer. He said the permit filing by quarry company Industrial Land Developers may not have sufficiently declared an interest in asphalt or concrete processing.
The council votes followed a heated public hearing in which dozens of residents spoke against quarries, expressing fears about blasting near homes, a public beach and the Old Hickory Dam.
The proposal has faced pushback from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, which oversees the state’s role in permitting. TDEC demanded more thorough environmental impact documents after a site visit and threatened to revoke a preliminary permit.