Douglas County Commission to again consider expansion of Eudora rock quarry; concerns raised over 185-foot-deep pond

photo by: Chris Conde/Journal-World File Photo

The Douglas County Courthouse is pictured in September 2018.

The Douglas County Commission will again consider allowing a rock quarry near Eudora to expand its operations. But it now has more comments from the Eudora Planning Commission to consider.

During its meeting on Wednesday, the commission will consider amending a conditional use permit for Hamm Quarry, 2364 North 1200 Road, which wants to expand its extraction operation into 51 acres west of its property. The amended permit would also allow the rock quarry to expand the amount of land that can be mined at one time from 30 acres to 50 acres.

The 51 acres the quarry proposes expanding into are at 1258 East 2300 Road, which is about a mile east of the southern edge of Eudora, a part of town that includes Eudora’s middle and high schools.

The commissioners originally considered the request in July, but chose to defer the item. Commissioner Nancy Thellman said she wanted to defer because she was concerned about whether residents in the area were properly notified about the project, calling it “a big deal.” The commissioners also previously heard from people who oppose the project, including Catherine Ellsworth, who said it would be detrimental to the area, which includes residential subdivisions.

The company agreed to hold a public meeting with the Eudora Planning Commission in early August to provide residents of Eudora an opportunity to comment on the issue. According to a memo to the commissioners, the planning commission held the meeting and found that it believes the quarry should be subjected to compliance review to make sure the expansion does not increase truck traffic in the area. If it does, the planning commission said it believed the county should reconsider the permit.

Other concerns the commission stated are related to the company’s reclamation project for a formerly used extraction pit on the property. In the first phase of proposed reclamation of the former pits, which was provided with the company’s permit application, the quarry plans to let a pit with a depth of 185 feet become a pond.

The planning commission said the pit is of “extreme concern” because it is very deep and would take a long time to fill up as a pond, which poses a safety hazard. According to planning documents, allowing the pit to fill with water to become a pond would take six to eight years.

“Every effort should be made to ensure that adequate safety measures are explored prior to beginning the reclamation phase of the quarry and that such measures are employed during and after reclamation,” the planning commission said in the memo.

The quarry currently has two parcels of land totaling close to 200 acres. If approved, the new permit would allow the quarry to expand its mining operation directly west into a third, 51-acre parcel. In May, the Lawrence-Douglas County Metropolitan Planning Commission voted 8-2 to recommend forwarding the permit to the County Commission for approval.

The company also requested for the permit to allow the quarry to expand its hours of operation for production and extraction from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday to 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday. However, the Planning Commission recommended that request be denied. Instead, the Planning Commission recommended approval for the hours to be changed to 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday, while keeping 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

In other business, the commissioners will consider approving a rezoning of a portion of land at 173 East 1250 Road from Ag-1, agriculture district, to Ag-2, a transitional agricultural district. The property owner said in the zoning application that he wanted to rezone about 12 acres of his 34-acre property into a homestead and then sell the remaining 22 acres for farming purposes.

The commissioners will also consider approving a site plan for the construction of a 35,000-square-foot structure at the southeast corner of North 1900 Road and East 1450 Road, which is also known as U.S. Highway 24. The structure would be an agriculture shop and office structure for Sod Shop, a sod and stone business.

The County Commission will meet Wednesday through an online video conference at 5:30 p.m. for the regular business meeting. The meeting will be open to the walk-in public at the county courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St., but a link for the public to watch live online is available on the county’s website, Residents may also call in and listen by phone by dialing 1-312-626-6799 and entering meeting ID 952-0472-8079.

Full audio from the meeting will continue to be posted on the county’s website, as usual. The meeting’s full agenda may also be found on the county’s website.

Contact Dylan Lysen

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