Eudora quarry permit proposal gets near-unanimous recommendation for denial for 2nd time

photo by: Lawrence-Douglas County Metropolitan Planning Commission screenshot

Dozens of members of the public listened as the Lawrence-Douglas County Metropolitan Planning Commission and Eudora Planning Commission considered a permit request for a quarry just southeast of Eudora for the second time, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023.

A proposal to establish a quarry just southeast of Eudora again failed to draw much support on its recent return to the Lawrence-Douglas County Metropolitan Planning Commission.

Topeka-based construction materials company Mid-States Materials has been trying since late last year to gain approval for a conditional use permit to establish the quarry. Its application already went to the Douglas County Commission with a recommendation for denial last month, and now it’ll go back to county leaders with the same recommendation at one of their upcoming meetings. The Eudora Planning Commission voted unanimously to make that recommendation for the second time Wednesday night, and all but one member of the Lawrence-Douglas County Metropolitan Planning Commission did, too.

photo by: Lawrence-Douglas County Metropolitan Planning Commission

A map shows various phases for a proposed quarry at 1174 E. 2300 Road southeast of Eudora. Topeka-based Mid-States Materials is seeking a conditional use permit to operate a limestone quarry on 242 acres there, right near the existing Hamm Quarry.

That was after nearly three hours of discussion, public comment and presentations from Eudora city officials and Mid-States Materials. Public comment took almost an hour on its own, and all but two of the 20 commenters voiced some sort of opposition to the quarry — including Eudora elected officials like Mayor Tim Reazin and City Commissioner Alex Curnes.

“We have the Eudora Planning Commission, we have the Eudora City Commission, we have the people that live in this area … all of these groups — some that are elected, some that are appointed — are saying ‘No, we do not want this quarry there,'” Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commissioner Charlie Thomas said. “As good as we believe quarries are, I cannot imagine how we, as a planning commission, can do anything other than support that. They are right there. They are elected, they are appointed, they live there.”

Mid-States Materials’ proposed quarry site is just across the road from the existing Hamm Quarry. Planning commissioners were discussing the Mid-States quarry again Wednesday evening at the applicant’s request, after the Douglas County Commission approved sending it back to consider an additional element not included when the company first applied for a permit: an amended truck haul route that would take traffic up East 2300 Road to the intersection of Kansas Highway 10 instead of along a road running past Eudora’s middle and high schools. Mid-States Materials also offered to resurface that stretch of East 2300 Road to handle the truck traffic.

The company’s general counsel, Rich Eckert, told planning commissioners Wednesday that Mid-States Materials was prepared to finance that work. Eckert said that could have looked something like an estimate to resurface the same stretch of road that Hamm Quarry prepared in 2021. That cost estimate exceeded $3.5 million.

But adjusting the route, members of the public and Eudora city officials noted, didn’t avoid a key concern: that trucks would pass by a school building. Eudora’s interim city manager, Kevyn Gero, said the new route actually would likely result in trucks passing near Eudora Elementary School. The elementary is located just north of the highway along the other side of East 2300 Road, which turns into East 10th Street as it runs through the city.

Meanwhile, the key concern from Eudora city officials, Gero said, was based on an unofficial future land use map that assumes increased housing diversity due to the arrival of Panasonic’s $4 billion, 4,000-job electric vehicle battery plant in nearby De Soto. Gero said that map also assumes Eudora’s growth will bump right up against the land Mid-States Materials wants to use as a quarry.

And concerns weren’t limited to just the truck route or Eudora’s growth potential. Members of the public raised issues with the quarry’s potential negative effects on the environment and on the property values of homes in the nearby Hesper Heights neighborhood, whose residents have been particularly outspoken about their objection to the quarry.

“This is about the location of this,” said one Hesper Heights resident, Marge Epperson, during Wednesday’s public comment. “It will literally be at the end of our street. Even with the best coverups or whatever they want to try to do, it’s at the end of our street, and it would then be continued down (2300 Road) whether it’s paved or not for all of those new development areas, as well, to see.”


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