To the editor:
A sand pit mining operation has been proposed to operate for 20 years on 220 acres at Lenape and 166th Street (just north of the De Soto bridge) in southern Leavenworth County. It is opposed by nearly all of the community that surrounds it, including the adjacent Burning Tree Golf Course that stands to lose thousands of dollars in revenue if the pit is approved, and by many from neighboring Bonner Springs, who would share in the added truck traffic. The city of De Soto also opposes truck traffic from the proposed mine.
The pit special use permit was recommended for approval by the county Planning and Zoning staff but voted down 4-3 after a public hearing, apparently due to road safety concerns.
The last step in approval or denial is a decision by the Board of County Commissioners after they receive another traffic study. It is on the Aug. 28 agenda.
The proposed pit is being opposed due to a number of risks to our community. These include road safety, drop in home values, health risks of blowing sand, loss of agricultural land, contamination of water wells, excessive noise, revenue losses by the adjacent golf course and other quality of life, economic and safety issues in this now quiet, peaceful rural area.
The biggest economic growth of our county has been occurring in the southern half. The locale and proposed truck route of the sand pit will certainly interfere with the residential development explosion occurring here. In fact, it will halt residential building, and already has resulted in several properties being put up for sale.
Would you like to live with the smell, traffic noise and back-up horns of diesel trucks eight to 12 hours a day, six days a week for 20 years? Would you like to live with blowing sand pitting your cars and trucks, covering the roads and seeping into your home? Would you like to add 10-20 minutes or more to your daily commute across railroad tracks and on narrow roads shared with massive sand trucks?
What about economic development for the county? Everyone is in favor of that.
But the sand pit operation brings very little money or jobs to Leavenworth County. The sand is sold from Edwardsville, so no sales tax is received by our county, and the truck drivers will be existing employees of the Edwardsville-based company. A relatively small amount of additional property tax will be received, but that will be offset by lost taxes on the reduced property values of local homes and the lost future revenue due to the negative impact on residential development and existing businesses.
Where is the benefit to Leavenworth County? We have not found much.
The county will incur high annual road repair costs, theoretically to be paid by the mining company due to the 200 or so trips per day by heavy sand trucks on roads and bridges never built to handle truck traffic. In fact, truck traffic is specifically prohibited by county ordinance on some of the roads on the proposed hauling route.
I oppose the sand pit proposal that brings virtually no benefits to Leavenworth County and will cost local residents and businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost revenue and reduced home values. The proposed business is not worth the significant health and safety risks to our residents, school children, motorists, customers and visitors.
The county needs sand, and there is a lot of it in the areas around the Kansas River. Sand mining could be done in a less populated area where it would not create as many hazards and economic risks and costs to our county.
Residents opposed to the sand pit are encouraged to attend the Board of County Commissioners meeting Aug. 28 at 9 a.m. at the courthouse and to contact the commissioners directly with their concerns.