County approves permit for sand quarry

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

Leavenworth County commissioners approved a special use permit for a proposed sand quarry.

However, an agreement between the applicant for the special use permit and county officials still has to be negotiated.

The motion to approve the special use permit was 4-1. Commissioner Mike Stieben, who represents the area of the proposed sand mining operation, voted against the motion.

The vote came Wednesday.

Kaw Valley Companies, Kansas City, Kansas, is the applicant for the special use permit for a surface mining operation in the area of 166th Street and Lenape Road in southeast Leavenworth County. The company has proposed 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 sand quarry faced opposition from residents from southern Leavenworth County. People opposed to the mining operation have expressed concern about safety issues including increased truck traffic as well as the impact on neighboring property values.

Last week, county commissioners conducted a public hearing on the issue that lasted more than three hours. At the conclusion of the hearing, commissioners voted to table the matter for a week.

When commissioners took up the issue again Wednesday, Commissioner Vicky Kaaz made the motion to approve the special use permit with more than 20 conditions recommended by county staff members.

The conditions include a requirement 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 pay for the replacement of the sections of roadway that make up the haul route.

Attorneys for Kaw Valley Companies expressed opposition to this condition during last week’s public hearing.

During Wednesday’s meeting, Commissioner Jeff Culbertson suggested adding a clawback provision that would charge future business developments in the area in order to pay back Kaw Valley Companies at least a portion of the expense for the road construction.

Commissioner Chad Schimke suggested there are improvements to the roads county officials may like to see regardless of whether the sand quarry opens.

He suggested a provision allowing investment by the county or other businesses to take away from the burden placed on the applicant.

Commission Chairman Doug Smith said the county is on the hook for costs associated with existing traffic on the proposed route.

Kaaz said she amended her motion to reflect the discussion by the other commissioners.

County Administrator Mark Loughry said he believes commissioners were in effect talking about entering into a development agreement. He said such an agreement would have to come back to the commissioners for approval.

Stieben argued the issue before commissioners was about more than roads.

He argued that, zoning notwithstanding, the sand quarry would not fit with the character of the area which includes small farms and small country estates.

“This is not the only place you can put a sand mine, and it does not fit with this area,” Stieben said.

When explaining why he was voting for the motion, Culbertson said the site of the proposed sand quarry has been zoned for industrial use since 1962.

He said railroad tracks in that area are used for industrial purposes.

Culbertson said the county has to find a way to reduce its property tax burden. Culbertson said he hopes approval of the special use permit sends a message that Leavenworth County is open for business.

Twitter: @LVTNewsJohnR

In other business

The Leavenworth County Commission:

• Approved a policy related to the acquisition of land for easements and right-of-ways.

• Approved a revised $3,000 behavioral health grant awarded from the Kansas Department of Corrections to Community Corrections.

• Approved a grant contract with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for a $7,500 solid waste reduction grant awarded to the county.

• Approved an annual adjustment to meal prices charged by Summit Food Service for meals served at the Leavenworth County Jail and Juvenile Detention Center.

Sheriff Andy Dedeke said prices will increase 3 to 6 cents per meal for a total increase of about $6,400 for the year.