Editor's Note: This story was written in response to a reader question submitted through our Open Source forum.
BELLVILLE -- If you've lived in Bellville for very long, you're likely familiar with the massive mounds of gravel just outside of village limits on the northwest side of town.
The bland, brown masses have been there for years. After driving past them on State Route 97 enough times, they may even fade into the background -- a forgotten part of the landscape, just as consistent as the trees, dirt and sky.
When a reader asked Richland Source about the future of these gravel mounds, it forced me to take a good look at them for the first time in a long while. After living in Bellville for most of my life, I had forgotten how huge they really were. Even standing on Bixler Road, hundreds of yards away, they seemed like miniature mountains.
"Several years ago there was a big debate about the opening of a gravel pit on Bixler Road / State Route 97 in Bellville," the reader wrote. "The pit closed, all equipment gone, still huge piles of gravel. What is the future?"
Well, I did some digging and here's what I discovered:
The property where the gravel mines are situated is currently owned by Ohio Richland Properties LLC, a Florida company registered to Darryl Lanker. He declined to comment for this story.
The property is managed by Mid Ohio Resources. Mining operations began around 2005 and ceased in 2013. Mid Ohio Resources sold off its mining equipment in 2015.
“The reason we stopped was that was the height of the recession and sales in this area just fell away and the owner said we will just take a time out,” said Bob Lanker, general manager of Mid Ohio Resources.
In 2015, Lanker told Bellville officials that between 30 and 50 years of sand and gravel reserves remained on the property. The property owner was attempting to sell the business, property and gravel reserves at the time.
Lanker told Richland Source that most of the material on the property is crushed washed gravel, which is mostly used for construction purposes. He couldn't comment on whether the owner still wished to sell the property.
He also told Richland Source that there are no plans to resume mining operations in the future and that the gravel is being sold off from the stockpile to Walker Brothers Co. Inc. in Lexington.
“We have a company there that is purchasing stone on a wholesale basis and takes it from the mine,” he said.