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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

Update: Quarry decision on hold until all commissioners present

Updated: Apr 13

The decision on whether to issue a conditional use permit for a quarry to operate on 2400 Road west of the Valley Road intersection was put on hold until all three county commissioners could be present to vote on the proposal. (Wix file photo)


By Charlene Sims, info@linncountyjournal.com


UPDATE: The Linn County Commission did not take a vote on the application for the conditional use permit (CUP) for the quarry on 2400 Road because only two members were present on Monday, April 8. 


Commissioner Danny McCullough sent a text message to County Clerk David Lamb before the meeting on Monday saying that he was up in the Kansas City metro area, the brake lines on his vehicle had been cut, and he wouldn’t be present at the regular commission meeting.


Since a protest petition against the conditional use permit for the quarry was presented to the commission and according to county legal counsel requires three-quarters of the commissioners  to approve it (in this case, all three members), the application could not be voted on.


MOUND CITY – The Linn County Commissioners at their meeting on Monday, April 1, tabled making a decision on an application by Mulberry Limestone for a conditional use permit to operate a quarry just west of the intersection of 2400 and Valley roads.


 A protest petition signed by at least 20% of the landowners within a 1,000-foot radius of the proposed quarry location was submitted to the commission, and several opponents of the quarry were at the April 1 commission meeting. 


The petition was approved by County Clerk David Lamb, which meant that the quarry decision would have to be an unanimous vote of the commissioners. Before the petition, approval of the permit would have required two of the three commissioners to vote for it, but because the petition was filed, a unanimous vote is required.


Linn County Planning and Zoning Director Darin Wilson presented the application for the quarry’s conditional use permit (CUP), which had been approved by a 6-to-3 vote of the planning commission.


Wilson listed the conditions that the planning commission had put on the CUP. They were: 


  • Must comply with all state and federal regulations. Permits to be kept on file with the Linn County Planning and Zoning office.

  • Hours of operation 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

  • Heavy equipment hours of operation shall not include maintenance and equipment loading and unloading of equipment for transport. Operations that occur indoors and operations necessary by emergency situations.

  • No storage of explosives.

  • Ingress and egress to 2400 Road.

  • Conditional use permit to be renewed in 5 years.

  • Set truck routes.

  • Road Maintenance agreement set by Board of County Commissioners.

  • Dust abatement.

  • Berms and buffers to be seeded with grass.

•     Pre-blast survey cost incurred by quarry owner and done annually.

• The entrance to the quarry will be paved with concrete.


Jake Wade, owner of the property, added other mitigations for residents’ concerns in his presentation later in the meeting 


Wilson told the commissioners that findings in his staff report supporting the approval of the quarry are:


• That it fits the character of the neighborhood because the neighboring properties are zoned agricultural or country estates and there is an existing quarry across the road.


• The proposed use does not appear to detrimentally affect nearby properties and with proper conditions will not affect the public health, safety and welfare of the public.

• The property is suitable for the proposed use.

• The property will remain as currently zoned as agricultural and has been vacant.                                                • The project could benefit the public by providing a boost to the local economy

• The the requested conditional use permit conforms to the current Linn County Comprehensive Plan.


Commissioner Danny McCullough said that he felt like the findings weren’t sufficient. He referred to the part that says the requested CUP conforms to Linn County’s Comprehensive Plan.                                                                                                           


Commission Chair Jason Hightower explained that Wilson was reviewing the whole comprehensive plan not just certain parts.


Wilson explained that you can find parts in the comprehensive plan where it talks about the beauty of the county, but then you can go where it talks about growth in the county.


McCullough said he did not feel that it was a good arguing point for a finding where it states the comprehensive plan three different times in the findings.


“I just don’t feel that’s that sufficient. I don’t feel that it is a good arguing point for a finding, do you?” asked McCullough.


“What would you prefer it to be?” asked Hightower. 


“I want more facts, professional opinions,” said McCullough.


McCullough said that he thought there should be a current road study and then a future road study to help with the road use agreement.


Wilson said that while the regulations have road use agreements in several places, right now, there were no active agreements. He said he last one he knew about was for the pipeline construction, and it has expired.


Commissioner Jim Johnson said, “Once you start that (road use agreements), where do you stop that? I mean, as far as the taxpayer in Linn County, I’m at issue with that I guess.”


Next Jacob Wade, owner of the property, and several residents spoke about the quarry.


Zach Walker, whose property is at the intersection at 2400 and Valley roads, said that it was a highly populated residential area and the area backs up to U.S. Highway 69 and the city limits of Linn Valley. He said it would be an eyesore. 


His other concerns were air pollution, dust, noise from the blasting and grinding, and especially the road conditions. Walker also expressed concerns about potential damage to homes and property devaluation.


Walker told the commissioners that, in his research about the area, only two residences were there when the first quarry was opened. He said that there are now 21 residences in a close vicinity proposed quarry.


Nineteen residences came in after the first quarry, and there is currently a quarry operating on the Youthfront Camp property just north of Walker’s property.


However, Walker said that at this point the area has turned more residential.


He said that the area already had heavier traffic because of the Linn County Park entrance, the Youthfront Camp and the Linn Valley traffic and the extra eighteen wheeler traffic with that other traffic was a concern.


Stephanie Walker expressed her concerns about the quarry not meeting some of the goals in the county’s comprehensive plan. She referred to the parts of the plan about protecting the natural beauty and open spaces, permitting agricultural uses, protecting and enhancing rural character. She said that the proposed quarry would be dvisible from U.S. 69.


Speaking in support of the new quarry, Tami Blanck said that she had lived in Linn County for 26 years and now lives on  Valley Road. She said that there was already pre-existing damage from the recreational vehicles and boats on trailers traveling to Linn Valley. 


”We can’t play a blame game,” Blanck said. “I mean, who ultimately is responsible for the road? We can play blame games all we want and try to hold somebody accountable for trying to start a business.” 


She pointed out again that damage on the road now might be from the existing quarry, RVs going to Linn Valley, visitors to Youthfront, but that wasn’t any reason to stop Wade from using his land for a business there. Other businesses like Wicked Outfitters have come in, adding more traffic since she lived there.


She said that the flying trucks have been an issue for years. She says she is not complaining about the blasting that goes on frequently at the present quarry because she knew when she moved there that is what she was going to hear.


She said that people living in that area buy, sell, and build knowing that there is already a quarry there. 


Robert Suppenbach, Linn Valley city council member, said that the city was not opposed to the county getting more industrial business, raising some more tax revenue and maybe even lowering costs on gravel. But what the city council would like to see is road studies and traffic studies done on 2400 and Ullery roads.


Suppenbach said that while those road aren’t narrow, they don’t have shoulders on them and there are deep drop-off ditches.


He said that having safer roads would benefit everyone, including the summer influx of people that come to Linn Valley. Suppenbach explained that the population of Linn Valley changed during holidays and the summer season, swelling from 1,000 people to more than 3,000. 


Craig Gooding said that he had lived in Linn County for over 50 years and crushed rock for Wade Quarries for years. He said that his father-in-law had maintained Valley Road for five years when he first opened the quarry there. He said that his father-in-law knew that it was his responsibility to take care of the road and he rocked and bladed it.


“Jacob (Wade) is a lot like his grandfather. What he wants to do is to carry on what his grandfather did,” said Gooding. 


Gooding said that he lived on that road and now a lot of the traffic there is from Linn Valley. He explained that the State would not put an exit at that location on 69 Highway and that throws all that traffic down old 69 Highway.


“The quarry was there way before all these people, and they knew that the quarry was there, and there’s probably, I don’t know, how many acres that Jake has figured is more than a lifetime’s worth of rock. 


“The people that have the quarry now have raised the prices that are just out of sight. Your people were talking earlier (in the meeting) about the differences between them doing the work and hiring the work. They were talking $100,000. A $100,000 can go a long way towards material if the material isn’t sky high in price.”

 

Gooding said, “Ivan Wade crushed rock in this county for all those years and always kept the county in mind when he set his prices. It was like pulling hen’s teeth to get him to raise the price because he knew what it cost to crush a ton of rock and make money and still keep the county and the people in the county to where they could afford it. Jacob is the same way.”


Brad Stainbrook said he would like to echo what Gooding had just said but added that he thought it would be good to have some competition in the northern end of the county for a rock quarry. Anything to help the good of the county with the road and maintenance.


“Competition will be good for both quarries and hopefully the county as well,” he said.


Property owner Jacob Wade said that the intention was to make this so it was not in the public eye. 


“We can make this a decent place,” said Wade.


Wade pointed out that this area had houses around but he would not call it super populated.  He said it was obviously a commercial, industrial area with other businesses, including other quarries and the La Cygne power plant. He said that some of the area that people lived on around this proposed site had been a previous quarry. He explained that quarry opponent Stephanie Walker had a lake on her property that had been result of the previous quarry.


Wade gave a short presentation on the video screen in the commissioner’s meeting room that showed his plans for the quarry area. He said that rather than using the 100-foot setbacks required by the county, there would be 200-foot setbacks.


He suggested leaving the current hedgerows for the neighbors’ protection and also planting more trees on 10-foot-high berms. Wade said that the berms at this location would not be like the bare berms of the quarry across the road that are piles of dirt.


He showed the commissioners where he would like to put a lake on the property whether the CUP was approved or not. He said the lake would be a water source for watering the newly planted vegetation and plants. Wade said he would plant the kind of trees that neighbors wanted.


“If Stephanie wants dogwood, we’ll put in dogwood,” said Wade. 


He continued, saying that one of his core values and those of Matt Blessant, is that he doesn’t push stuff off on other people, he takes care of problems himself. Blessant is the person who would be leasing the land to operate a quarry.


Wade said that he would be 100% accountable for issues that came up, like dust control and taking care of the 100 feet of road frontage.


While the quarry across the road crushes rock four to five months of the year, the plan for this quarry would be to do this work three months out of the year, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, Wade said.


Wade said he doubted that Zach Walker would even be at home to hear the minimal noise when the quarry was operating.


Blessant answered questions about his other locations from the commissioners.


The commissioners decided to wait until Wilson came back with a more detailed explanation of the findings next Monday before making a decision.

  


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