Court Orders New Hearing Over Proposed Dirt Mine

LITTLE ROCK, AR - The Arkansas Supreme Court today ordered a new hearing to determine whether a planning board had the right to reject a proposed red dirt mine near Civil War campgrounds in northwest Arkansas.

The state Supreme Court reversed a lower court's ruling that the Benton County Planning Board had no rational basis to deny a permit to Overland Development Company.  The company proposed to mine the dirt on about 30 acres of land near the intersection of Old Wire and Cross Hollow roads south of Rogers.

Benton County historians objected to the mining and said Cross Hollows was the site of Union and Confederate campgrounds in the winter of 1861 and 1862, and was an important staging area before the Civil War battles of Pea Ridge and Prarie Grove.

An archaelogical study commission by the company, however, said the proposed mining site had not been occupied during the Civil War but had been used for prehistoric hunting and gathering.

Justices said a hearing was needed to determine whether the mining operation would disturb archaelogical artifacts on the site and whether transporting red dirt would harm the Civil War sites nearby.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)