It was the year of the mine in Wakefield Valley. Quarrying caused a big commotion in the county in 1991 when a citizens committee workingto develop a mining plan sponsored a series of public hearings.

The committee heard loud and clear from citizens who live near quarries or areas where mining is proposed. Resident after resident spoke upabout worries over reduced property values, lost water supplies, andincreased truck traffic and noise.

The three mining companies that own land in Carroll generally supported the plan, saying mineral resources must be preserved as a vital part of the economy.

The Board of County Commissioners, which will have the final say over whether the plan is approved, will sponsoranother public hearing late this month or early next month on the proposed plan.

Studies have found about 4,000 acres of Wakefield marble with economic value in Carroll. About 1,600 acres could be mined.

Last year brought a victory of sorts for Wakefield Valley residents. After four years of trying, Carroll legislators succeeded in getting state legislation passed that protects residents from damage to their property due to mining.

But on July 1 -- the day the bill took effect -- the Maryland Aggregates Association Inc., which represents the three companies in Carroll and six others in the state, challenged the law in court.

The association asked the court to suspend enforcement of the law and determine its validity.

The action prompted Delegate Richard N. Dixon, D-Carroll, a sponsor of the legislation, to question the industry's integrity.

The industry says the lawis unconstitutional because it presumes companies liable for damages. The lawsuit is pending in Anne Arundel Circuit Court.

Another legal battle brought a victory for The Arundel Corp., which waged a three-year court battle to try to get permission to dig a quarry in Wakefield Valley.

In August, the state's highest court ruled Carroll administrators erred when they retroactively applied a new zoning law to Arundel's plans for a limestone quarry.

The Court of Appeals said the matter should be returned to the county Board of Zoning Appeals.

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