Trustees reject Noble Township quarry plan

May 10—NOBLE TOWNSHIP — A controversial stone quarry won't be built in rural Noble Township in Auglaize County after all.

The Noble Township trustees rejected a petition Thursday to rezone 142 acres of farmland as industrial, which would have been the first step for Weber Building Materials to mine the land when its contract with an existing quarry ends.

Residents packed into the Noble Township Community Center for the second time this month to urge the trustees to oppose the petition, as many residents feared the unintended consequences of rezoning agricultural land for industrial use if the proposed quarry failed or closed.

"Do we want to risk turning our peaceful rural haven into an industrial sacrifice zone?" resident Jen Van Gundy said.

Resident Beth Barhorst said, "This opens a can of worms for basically any business to come in."

The petition arose from a business dispute between Weber Building Materials, which operates an existing quarry in Noble Township owned by the Hirschfeld family, and the quarry's owners.

Kevin Weber said his company has been in a dispute with the owners for four years "due to slow payments and other disagreements." His contract ends in six years.

"We were blindsided when we were told on a Zoom call they were going to sell in six years," Weber told the trustees Thursday, describing the land where he intended to quarry as a "natural progression" from the existing site.

Members of the Hirschfeld family denied Weber's claims during a previous public hearing held by the zoning commission.

The Noble Township Zoning Commission recommended the rezoning petition to trustees earlier this month despite overwhelming opposition from residents, who threatened to initiate a referendum if the petition succeeded.

"It all comes down to one thing: money," resident John Vogel said.

The sole public comment in support of the petition Thursday came from a trucking company owner from Lima.

Residents raised concerns about Weber's business practices, including the possibility he would sell the mine, as well as the potential for infrastructure and well damage, loss of greenspace and dust contamination to nearby crops.

Robin Copeland, who lives near the site where Weber Materials planned to mine, worried what would happen to her family's farm if the land nearby were converted into a quarry.

"That's my little piece of heaven," Copeland said. "That's all I've got, and they're going to take it."