The Putnam County Plan Commission voted unanimously Thursday night to allow Buzzi Unicem to mine shale on a tract of land in Cloverdale Township that is bordered on all sides by homesteads.
The controversial decision drew frustration and even tears from some of the three dozen homeowners who showed up to protest the move.
Larry Jones, Nancy Wells, Kevin Scobee, President Brian Gilmartin, Joe Mann and Gene Beck all voted to rezone the 135-acre tract of ground on County Road 1000 South near Indiana 243.
At last month's meeting surrounding homeowners raised several questions about what the mine will do to the quality of life on their properties -- including schedules and impacts of blasting, work schedules, increased truck traffic, noise and environmental impact.
Thursday night, Buzzi consultant Willie McGuire addressed the work hours issue. As it stands, work can go on at the site from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
He said crews would likely only work three to four days each week, though Buzzi reserves the right to mine the area for as much as six days per week.
Keith Best, an explosives consultant with Sauls Seismic of Hillard, Ohio, told Plan Commission members that homeowners will not feel the shockwaves from explosive charges.
And since Buzzi will only be blasting the material to sits on top of the shale, the explosives needed are much less powerful than those used in other operations like limestone mining, he said.
The shale itself will be pit mined with earthmovers.
The one real concession that Buzzi made was that it agreed to install a tire washer to reduce the dust and mud tracked onto county roads from the trucks.
Gilmartin limited the comments from the restless members of the public, allowing only input on the new information presented.
This left many of the homeowners who turned out feeling disenfranchised, they said.
Phyllis Brown, whose property borders the east side of the mine and who spearheaded much of the opposition, said she felt betrayed by the Plan Commission's decision.
"It was a done deal from the very beginning," she said with tears in her eyes.
But for their part, the board members said the decision weighed heavily on their minds and they felt like they made the right decision even though many of the surrounding residents were unhappy with their vote.
The Plan Commission is only an advisory board. The county commissioners have final approval of the rezoning permit, though Beck, who voted for the measure, is also a commissioner.