Dave Jones wants to dig a deeper hole, but local government and businesses on Jackson Pike object.

Dave Jones wants to dig a deeper hole, but local government and businesses on Jackson Pike object.

Jones, fourth-generation owner of Jones Fuel Co., has filed an application to annex his nearly 90 acres from Jackson Township to Columbus because the township won't let him add gravel mining to his zoning permit.

"We're trying to dig a hole," Jones said. "I don't really understand the difference of digging a four-foot hole or digging 40 feet."

Franklin County commissioners are scheduled to hear his annexation request Jan. 12.

If the commissioners approve it, the request likely will go before Columbus City Council on Jan. 25. Council on Dec. 14 approved a service agreement with Jones Fuel.

Jones also filed an annexation application last year. It was tabled Oct. 27, 2008, by then-councilwoman Maryellen O'Shaughnessy. She said she wanted to allow all parties involved to discuss the issue further.

Jackson Township trustees in 2001 approved a special use permit allowing Jones Fuel to dig four feet on a portion of its 89-acre property on Jackson Pike north of Stringtown Road.

Jones said about 100 trucks exit the property between March and December, depending on the weather, to haul topsoil to central Ohio sites.

He would like to dig much deeper to mine gravel, a raw material in growing demand lately, he said.

A gravel operation would create about 10 jobs and would not increase traffic, he said.

Ground tests show a potential of 70 feet of gravel in the ground on Jones' property. The mining operation would cover about 55 acres. The quarry would operate on a seasonal basis from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Jones said.

When the mining operation is complete, Jones said he will donate the resulting 55-acre lake to the government for creation of a park.

"All we're doing is digging a deeper hole," he added.

Gravel mining would require no demolitions.

"When you're mining gravel, it's like digging a hole on the beach," Jones said. "Or it's like getting ice out of a glass full of water with a spoon."

The operation must follow stringent regulations.

"The only industry more regulated than mining is the pharmaceutical industry," Jones said.

He said he has offered to install a wheel washer and sprayer system to keep pollution from the operation to a minimum.

He said he has tried to work with local government and businesses, to no avail.

"There's just no way we're going to make these people happy," he said.

Uwe Seeler, president of Danville-based Mine Services Co., said he worked with Jones Fuel to obtain permits from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources for the gravel operation.

He said the dust from gravel mining would be minimal because it is a wet operation.

Jackson Township and Grove City officials said they oppose the move for many reasons, mostly stemming from added air pollution, road wear and potential loss of commercial businesses.

"We don't understand why a gravel operation has to be such a hard-fought issue," said Jackson Township administrator Mike Lilly.

Manheim Ohio Auto Auction at 3905 Jackson Pike, west of Jones' property, might move elsewhere, taking with it about 450 jobs, if the mining operation gets any deeper.

Jim Chester, attorney with Manheim, said the current topsoil operation causes air pollution that requires auto auction employees to wash cars more often than is efficient.

"The reason is washing cars is money," Chester said.

James Herlihy, owner of Herlihy Moving and Storage at 3759 Jackson Pike, also west of Jones' property, said his company hires about 20 employees to work in three warehouses on the five-acre property.

He said he opposes the mining operation because it adds dust in the air and mud on the ground when it rains.

The operation creates a "dirty neighborhood," which detracts customers, he added.

"My ability to stay in business is at stake," Herlihy said. "My competitors don't have to deal with the mud, and they don't have the image of having this (mining operation) right across the street from them."

He said Jones bought property to deplete it, while other businesses have made an investment to the community.

"I'm living in reality here," Herlihy said. "(The mining operation) belongs in a neighborhood that hasn't made the investment. This is not the right neighborhood."