Archive for Wednesday, August 28, 2013

County OKs permit for Penny’s sand pit near Eudora

August 28, 2013


Despite strong objections from neighboring landowners and the city of Eudora, Douglas County commissioners gave final approval Wednesday for a sand pit mining operation along the Kansas River.

The decision helps clear the way for Penny's Concrete Inc. to move one of its current dredging operations out of the Kansas River and onto the south bank, where it would mine sand on about 166 acres of land northwest of Eudora, near North 1500 Road and East 1850 Road. The plan still needs approval from a number of state and federal authorities.

Penny's sought the permit after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers declined to renew the company's permit for the in-river dredge near that site.

The 2-1 vote came after another lengthy public hearing — the third in the past year — during which opponents argued it could threaten private and municipal water supplies in the area, while company officials insisted the sand pit would pose little or no danger to public health and safety.

“This affects over 6,000 people in our county — the city of Eudora, and even people outside the city who buy water from us,” Eudora Mayor Ruth Hughes said. “What we really need is to just say no to this.”

Earlier in the week, the Eudora City Commission voted unanimously to urge county commissioners to reject the permit. Their concern was that the pit mine, and the lake it will create, could act as a pathway for contamination to affect the city's water supply.

But the county had already given preliminary approval in March, subject to an engineering study to determine if the sand pit would threaten either the quality or quantity of water in the aquifer beneath the site.

Richard Murphy, an engineer with Conestoga-Rovers and Associates, which performed that study, said water in the aquifer generally flows northeast, away from Eudora's wells. And while he conceded that the mining operation could alter the flow and direct some water to the city's wells, he said there were enough protections built into the conditional use permit to protect the people of Eudora.

“I would feel very comfortable with the water supply, yes,” Murphy said, when asked how he would feel if he and his family lived in Eudora and drank municipal water.

Commissioner Nancy Thellman sided with Eudora officials.

“I stand with the city,” Thellman said. “I agree with the mayor. This is a risk that's too big.”

But Commissioners Mike Gaughan and Jim Flory said they were satisfied that the conditions of the permit would minimize the risk.

“I'm confident that the Conestoga-Rovers information is accurate and appropriate,” Flory said. “They feel as long as the conditions we're setting are carried out, this can be a safely run operation and not impact the water supply of the city of Eudora.”


Mike Myers 4 years, 8 months ago

So does this mean Penny will no longer operate at the East Lawrence facility? Can we get some public use of the riverfront in east Lawrence now, finally?

Ronnie24 4 years, 7 months ago

HUMMMMM I guess its true.... Money talks!

thelonious 4 years, 7 months ago

It doesn't just screams, it yells, it threatens, it jumps up and down, it shakes its tail, whatever it needs to do to get what it wants.

thelonious 4 years, 7 months ago

So to commissioner Thellman, thank you for once again standing up for safe, clean water for the City of Eudora, which apparently doesn't matter to the commissioners representing Lawrence and the rest of rural Douglas County who would be unaffected by this. To commissioners Flory and Gaughan, as a homeowner in Eudora, I just want you to know that if Eudora's municipal water gets contaminated as a result of this folly, the City of Eudora will sue Douglas County to pay for the cleanup, for the cost of health issues of the residents, for lost property value of homes, and hold Douglas County generally liable and responsible for paying to fix any problems. On a more personal note, as my wife teaches in Overland Park and I split my time between work in Lawrence and Kansas City, I am now second-guessing just a bit our decision to buy a home in Eudora in 2008 when we left Lawrence - I am thinking we should have moved east all the way to Lenexa. I will sum up with this - residents of small, rural communities do not appreciate being dumping grounds for whatever big industry wants or needs to do. There are a LOT of other pieces of land in the Kaw Valley that could be mined for sand without threatening anyone's water supply - this one was just close and easy, so presto! Make no mistake about it, I am not happy about this, the City of Eudora is not happy about this, and I can hardly believe I am saying this, but I am starting to think that if there was a way for Eudora to secede from Douglas County and join Johnson County (we are only 2 miles from the border, after all), we should do it!

redfred 4 years, 7 months ago

We've been trying to give Eudora to Johnson county for years.

thelonious 4 years, 7 months ago

Cute - we'll see how funny you find all of this in 10 to 20 years when Lawrence needs wells in this aquifer for clean drinking water to replace their current sources of Clinton Lake (too silted up to use in 10 to 20 years) and the Kaw (too polluted to treat in 10 to 20 years).

nick_s 4 years, 7 months ago

Because when it comes to politics, the experts at the University dont know what they are talking about. These guys are elected commissioners, they know more about geology than someone who has devoted their career to learning & understanding this topic. It sounds very similar to the Menards deal. I cant remember the professor's name, but he spoke out regarding urban sprawl, & creating/sticking to responsible development plans. His opinion was obviously valued as well.

Shannon Zheanger & the Athletic Department? Real scholars & experts. They can get anything done in this town. Academics & doctorates? Psh, what do they know?

thelonious 4 years, 7 months ago

Why indeed - I just read this, and I am now even more amazed that this got approved. A retired KU professor of Geology offers an independent, unbiased, scientific assessment, and it is ignored and instead we rely on the happy talk of the company and its lackey engineering firm. Belief over science - where have I seen that before? At least it looks like I've got five years to figure out if I need to sell my house and move. Also, I am not just concerned about Eudora - this is even worse for nearby property owners with private wells. They might as well cap their wells and start buying potable water by the tankful - this is going to be terrible for them, and I find it very disappointing that our county commissioners would put the profit-interests of a company over and above the interests of these nearby private citizens of the county and the citizens of Eudora. Appalling, really.

Peter Hancock 4 years, 7 months ago

The professor in question has also identified himself as one of the neighboring property owners who, thus, has a vested financial interest in the outcome of the issue. While he has some level of professional expertise, he cannot be considered "independent" - i.e., free from external influence or personal bias. He shares the same interest as all the other property owners and water users who stand to be directly affected by the project. I have referenced his comments in earlier stories on this same issue. See our Nov. 29 story, for example:

thelonious 4 years, 7 months ago actually identified him as an "engineer" in the Nov. 29 story. He is actually Professor Emeritus of Geology at KU. He's a geologist - not an engineer, and they are not the same - look it up. I think, given that he is a professional Geologist who taught Geology at KU, he can be considered "independent" as it relates to his scientific opinion. What is even more incredible, given your reply, is that of course he would be opposed to this, living right next to it - wouldn't you? Hey, not next to your house or threatening your water, no big deal, right? Give me a break. Questionable Douglas County politics, shoddy reporting, no regard for nearby citizens or the citizens of Eudora, etc. And then on top of that, the "reporter" is simply an apologist for the people with the money and influence. You want independent? Then why doesn't the county hire an independent Geologist, rather than rely on the lackey engineering firm hired by the company applying for the permit, or the opinion of a retired professor of Geology from KU who has a "financial interest" in the project. Of course he has a financial interest! If his property is ruined, it is no more and no less than theft, officially aided and abetted by the county. Once again, give me a break!

Louis White 4 years, 7 months ago

Damn, I thought Penny's Sand Pit was the name of a new bar.

bearded_gnome 4 years, 7 months ago

don't like it? panic? think the engineering firm wants to hang itself with a bad report making themselves vulnerable to lawsuit? no.

don't like this, should've supported dredging to continue in the river then.

keeping jobs alive.

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