Commissioners table sand quarry request

John Richmeier

After listening to comments from attorneys and county residents for about three hours, Leavenworth County commissioners voted to table a special use permit request for a sand quarry.

Commissioners plan to take up the request again when they meet next week.

The vote to table the issue came Wednesday evening at the conclusion of a public hearing concerning a special use permit for what is commonly referred to as the Lenape sand quarry.

Kaw Valley Companies, Kansas City, Kansas, is seeking the special use permit for a surface mining operation in the area of 166th Street and Lenape Road in southeast Leavenworth County. The company is proposing to use the operation to quarry and stockpile sand deposits. The sand would be transported to another location for additional processing.

The site of the proposed sand quarry 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 safety issues including increased truck traffic as well as the impact on neighboring property values.

Members of the Leavenworth County Planning Commission voted last year against recommending approval of the special use permit by a 4-3 margin.

Members of the county government’s staff have recommended approval of the special use permit but with 22 conditions. And one of the proposed conditions was a point of contention during Wednesday’s public hearing.

This condition would require that the roads used for the sand quarry’s haul route be brought up to county standards before the hauling of sand begins. And county officials are requesting the company to pay for the replacement of the sections of roadway that make up the haul route.

Justin Johl, an attorney representing Kaw Valley Companies, argued Wednesday that this recommended condition is not supported by documentation.

“There is nothing in front of this commission that says the entire route needs to be rebuilt,” he said.

Kaw Valley Companies hired an engineering firm to study the route. And that firm believes the roads on the route could last another 10 years with the additional truck traffic.

The proposed length of the special use permit is 25 years.

Johl said Kaw Valley Companies proposed paying the county $50,000 per year as well as a royalty based on the tonnage of sand removed from the quarry. He said this royalty could total an additional $75,000 per year.

Johl argued Kaw Valley Companies was being asked to build a new road that everybody would be able to use including future developers in the area.

The reconstruction of the haul route was suggested by Olsson, an engineering firm used by the county government.

County Administrator Mark Loughry said he did not see any of the arguments made during the public hearing “changing the recommendation by Olsson and staff.”

Commissioner Vicky Kaaz, who participated in the meeting by telephone, said some of the issues that have been discovered regarding the proposed haul route exist regardless of whether the sand quarry is allowed to open. She argued the county has some responsibility to address the safety concerns.

Commission Chairman Doug Smith suggested tabling the issue until July 15. He said this will give commissioners a week to digest the information they received.

Wednesday’s public hearing was held as part of a special meeting of the County Commission. But Smith said commissioners will take up the issue next week during a regular meeting.

“It would just be on the agenda,” he said.

Commissioners unanimously approved a motion to table the matter until next week.

While next week’s meeting may include a comment comment period, Senior County Counselor David Van Parys said the official public hearing on the special use permit request was concluded Wednesday.

Van Parys participated in the meeting by telephone.

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