A quarry southeast of Eudora is poised for expansion, leaving Dan Hoover and his neighbors caught between 3.5 million tons of rock and a hard place.
"We'll basically be prisoners in our own home," said Hoover, a real estate professional who last month moved his family into a new house on 20.5 acres near the quarry's expansion area. "We want to enjoy our lifestyle. We moved out there to enjoy our lifestyle, and certainly not to be prisoners in our own home. ...
"It's just going to be an absolute misery."
Despite objections from Hoover and other neighbors, Douglas County commissioners agreed unanimously Wednesday night to approve N.R. Hamm Quarry Inc.'s request for a permit to add 129 acres to its 72-acre quarry.
The quarry -- in place for more than 40 years along the north side of North 1200 Road, just west of the Johnson County line -- will be expanded to the north, on land leased from Katherine Neis.
The expansion site contains about 3.5 million tons of limestone, the kind needed to create concrete and asphaltic pavement used for construction of roads and highways, said Marvin Zielsdorf, Hamm's sales manager.
It also would be enough to fill 140,000 trucks, something neighbors argued would be far out of place for a serene rural area that was fast becoming desirable for residential development.
Adra Burks, an attorney representing one of the neighbors, said that as many as 600 homes already were built or in the works within two miles of the quarry's expansion area.
Trucks will pass in front of Eudora's new high school, she said. A new middle school is expected to be finished next year, and a new elementary school is envisioned next door as Eudora continues to grow.
Even more homes are certain to be on the way, said Caren Rowland, a Realtor who has lived nearby for more than 20 years. But she cautioned that the area's growth would slow -- and property values would be cut -- because few people would want to live near a growing hole in the ground.
"I understand there is a need for rock," said Rowland, who recalls feeling previous quarry blasts rumbling through her home's stone foundation. "However, this is the wrong spot. ... It's a mile and a half from the high school. ...
"I find it hard to believe that if this were a mile and a half from Free State High School that we would even be having this discussion."
Dan Watkins, an attorney for Hamm, acknowledged Eudora's growth pattern, he but questioned opponents' conclusions.
"There's sufficient land for them to double their population, and double it again, before they get to this site," Watkins said. "If that type of growth takes place, there will be a need for rock from this site."
He also noted commissioners would be able to review the permit every five years -- an added protection for residents.
Commissioners voted to approve the permit but also agreed not to allow it to take effect until they had time to approve restrictions regarding operational, environmental, security and traffic concerns.
In other action, commissioners:
- Agreed to establish a committee to examine prospects for county involvement in health programs at public schools.
- Approved spending $87,535 on eight tracts of land needed to make room for the upcoming reconstruction of County Road 1029, between the Farmers Turnpike and Lecompton.