One afternoon in mid-January Debby Freidell was at home in rural western Douglas County taking dishes out of her dishwasher. She had just set a dinner plate on the kitchen counter when an explosion occurred nearby, making it feel like the entire house had “bucked up,” sending the plate into the air and onto the floor.
The explosion, it turned out, was from blasting at the small, nearby Hamm-Buchheim Quarry north of Clinton Lake on East 550 Road. Until about October 2012, area residents and county officials say, the quarry had been idle for most of the previous 35 years.
Debby's husband Steve said the blast damaged the foundation of their house. Seismic monitors recorded the blast at 0.565 on the PPV (peak particle velocity) scale, well above the threshold that geologists say is a risk for damaging certain kinds of buildings.
The Feidells, who have lived in their home since 2003, said they received no advance notice that the quarry was about to resume blasting. Now, they are among several residents near the quarry who are asking the Douglas County Commission to put stricter limits on the quarry's conditional use permit.
“We realized when we purchaed this property that the quarry was there and don't deny them the right to extract their rock,” Steve Freidell said. “What we do have a problem with is their actions which have created damage to our property and unsafe living conditions.”
Douglas County commissioners will consider their complaints when they meet at 6:35 p.m. Wednesday at the County Courthouse.
Officials from N.R. Hamm, Inc., were not immediately available for comment.
Besides the blasting, Freidell and other nearby residents say they are concerned about excessive noise, truck traffic from the quarry, and excessive dust on the gravel road used by the trucks.
According to the Lawrence-Douglas County planning department, the permit was first issued on the quarry in 1977 and was supposed to be subject to annual reviews. But since the quarry has been inactive, no reviews have been done recently, and there are no written records in the file to show any were done in the past.
In other business, the county commission will:
• Consider a recommendation from the Community Health Plan Steering Committee to accept the “Roadmap to a Healthier Douglas County: 2013-2018 Douglas County Community Health Plan” as a guiding document for Douglas County.
• Consider approval of a temporary business permit for an asphalt batch plant at the Hamm's Eudora Rock Quarry site, 1213 E. 2400 Rd., for producing hot mix asphalt for road construction.