Douglas County commissioners took a big step Wednesday toward helping resolve a longtime dispute about a rock quarry in the western portion of the county.
But neighboring property owners who have voiced environmental concerns about the use of the Big Springs Quarry, now operated by Mid-States Materials LLC of Topeka, can still have input in the company’s future reclamation plans at the site.
“This is our first opportunity to begin to build trust, and it’s a great opportunity,” said David Henry, who owns property near the quarry.
Commissioners on Wednesday night unanimously approved a court-sanctioned agreement with Mid-States Materials that outlines reclamation plans and other land-use regulations for the site the company bought from Martin Marietta Materials LLC in 2007.
“It’s a compromise that’s not going to correct everything we think was wrong in the past, but I think it’s something we can all go forward with in good faith,” Commissioner Jim Flory said. “And maybe we can rebuild that trust that we lost along the way.”
Mid-States must now submit a detailed reclamation plan, including a drainage study, for several phases of the quarry to the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Department. A major goal of the reclamation plans is to remove an overburden pile along East 100 Road.
“I think it’s a fair plan to move forward,” said attorney John Hutton, who represents Mid-States.
Mid-States bought the quarry from Martin Marietta Materials in 2007. The quarry is just south of County Road 442 near the Shawnee County line.
Neighbors had accused Martin Marietta officials of not living up to conditions of the original permit issued in 1990, and the two sides settled a federal lawsuit out of court earlier this year.
County commissioners Wednesday approved the agreement with Mid-States Materials, but they said the agreement left the door open for nearby property owners to comment in the future when the county considers approving reclamation plans from Mid-States Materials.
“The spirit of willingness and eagerness to move on is evident,” Commissioner Mike Gaughan said.