Leavenworth County commissioners want to allow up to four hours for comments during an April 15 public hearing for a proposed sand mining operation.


Commissioners discussed time restrictions and other possible rules for the public hearing when they met Wednesday.


The public hearing is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. April 15 at the Leavenworth County Courthouse, 300 Walnut St. Commissioners will be conducting the hearing to consider a special use permit for a surface mining operation in the area of 166th Street and Lenape Road.


Kaw Valley Companies, Kansas City, Kansas, is proposing to use the operation to quarry and stockpile sand.


The site is located within a floodway that is zoned for heavy industrial use.


The proposal has faced opposition from residents from southern Leavenworth County. People who are opposed to the proposed mining operation have expressed concern about increased truck traffic, neighboring property values and the possibility of pollution to water sources.


During Wednesday’s meeting, Commissioner Mike Stieben reviewed his suggestions for the upcoming public hearing. He recommended allowing a total of two hours for people who want to speak in favor of the proposal and two hours for people who wish to speak against the proposal.


He suggested that each speaker be limited to three minutes.


Stieben said priority should be given to people who live within 1,000 feet of the proposed site of the sand quarry and people who live along a proposed truck route for the business.


He suggested that people who want to provide documentation do so ahead of the public hearing so commissioners have time to review it.


“I think you have to be cognizant of the start time,” County Administrator Mark Loughry said.


With four hours of comments from the audience, the April 15 meeting would last until at least 10:30 p.m. Loughry said there also will be additional time used for discussion and debate among commissioners.


Senior County Counselor David Van Parys said commissioners do not have to make a decision the night of the public hearing.


“You’re going to be receiving a significant amount of material,” he said.


He said people can submit written comments prior to the public hearing.


Commissioner Vicky Kaaz said, because of time constraints, some people may not have the opportunity to speak during the public hearing. But people can submit written comments.


She said some people already have provided written comments.


Van Parys said commissioners can ask representatives of the applicant how much time they wish to have to speak during the public hearing and whether they want to set aside time for a rebuttal.


He said the applicant should be submitting enough information ahead of time that the company’s presentation during the April 15 meeting should be mostly for clarification.


Van Parys said the same is true with comments from opponents of the proposal. He said the written comments will be substantial. He said the oral comments will illuminate the areas people think are the most important.


Kaaz suggested opponents or proponents can designate a spokesperson. And this person will be allowed to speak for longer than three minutes per person limit.


Stieben said this seems fair if this is arranged ahead of time.


Stieben suggested Loughry can put the commissioners’ suggestions in writing. Commissioners can vote on the public hearing guidelines during a future meeting.


Loughry said the guidelines for the public hearing likely will be presented to commissioners March 11.


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