Archive for Monday, February 14, 2011

Eudora questioning effects of proposed sand pit operation

February 14, 2011

The city of Eudora has concerns over a proposed sand pit that staff says doesn’t fit with development policies and is too close to the city’s water supply.

On Feb. 23, the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission and the Eudora Planning Commission will play host to a joint hearing on a conditional use permit for a sand pit operation that would sit along North 1500 Road.

Developer Kaw Valley Companies is proposing the pit on land that was once home to a private nine-hole golf course. Kaw Valley plans to excavate sand from the site and run a sorting and washing facility. Dredging won’t be part of the operation.

The open dredge pit will encompass 114 acres of the 197 acres. Within that section of land will be a 6.3-acre area where the sand will be stored, dried and removed for use. The land will be mined in 16 phases over the mine’s estimated 30-year life. When the mining is complete, the pit will be turned into a lake.

Next door to the property is the city of Eudora’s well field, the main water supply for its residents.

Consultants hired by the developer issued a report stating the sand pit wouldn’t have any impact on the city’s wells. Eudora City Manager John Harrenstein said the city was having that report reviewed.

“We want to make sure there is zero chance of impacting the well field,” Harrenstein said.

Staff with the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Department also have asked for the developers to provide more information on the potential impact to Eudora’s well fields, planner Sandra Day said.

Price Banks, the attorney representing the developer, said he wasn’t sure how much more information could be provided. A study commissioned by the state shows that sand pits don’t affect groundwater. The same finding was made by the expert the developer hired. The pit would have no more pollutants than surface water, he said.

Well fields aside, the city also takes issue on how the sand pits fit within its planning policies. The sand pit is outside the city’s boundaries, but within the boundaries where future growth could occur.

By not having direct access to Kansas Highway 10 and being within the 100-year floodplain, the proposed sand pit falls short of two of the city’s planning policies.

“The city does want to encourage industrial development with direct access to K-10 and outside of the 100-year floodplain. And several sites call for it to happen,” said Scott Michie, a consultant with Bucher, Willis and Ratliff, which is the planning adviser for the city. And, there are plenty of other sites in Douglas County that sit along the Kansas and Wakarusa rivers where a sand pit operation could go, Michie said.

Developers picked the site because it was available and rich in sand, Banks said. Most of the material will be hauled on Kansas Highway 32 toward Kaw Valley’s headquarters in Wyandotte County, not through Eudora and onto K-10.

And, Banks said, the concerns associated with building in a floodplain — such as elevating the site, having equipment that won’t come loose during a flood and using industrial pollutants — will be addressed in the plans.

“If you don’t have a sand pit in a floodplain, I’m not sure where you put it,” Banks said.

The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission and Eudora Planning Commission will make separate recommendations that will be passed on to the Douglas County Commission. County commissioners are scheduled to conduct a hearing on April 20.

Along with obtaining a conditional use permit from Douglas County, developers must receive approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The agency will take public comments on the developer’s proposal until Feb. 28.

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