Board recommends denial of permit for asphalt plant at Plummer Creek Quarry

The Osage County Planning and Zoning Board voted to recommend denial of a conditional use permit for a temporary asphalt plant Tuesday evening, due to the applicant not appearing at the public hearing that had been continued from last month.

At its June 30 meeting, the board heard from Jack Hamilton, of Chester Bross Construction Co., Hannibal, Mo., who requested a permit for the asphalt plant to be placed at Plummer Creek Quarry, located at 18486 S. Berryton Rd., north of Pomona Lake. The quarry is operated by Mid-States Materials.

Hamilton said his company would be resurfacing state Highway 31 east of Osage City to the junction with U.S. Highway 75, with the project to begin in mid-August and expected to last through September. The construction company was awarded the $2.8 million, 29.3-mile resurfacing project in November. The project also includes portions of state Highway 170 to the Lyon/Osage county line.

Hamilton said the company would obtain rock from the quarry and haul in oil and sand to make asphalt, which would be transported from the quarry to the job site. He said the project would use 35,000 tons of rock from the quarry. He said that due to the location of the project and the rock to be used, “it would be better to set [the asphalt plant] in the quarry,” rather than find a site along the project.

During the June board meeting, local resident Roger Davis objected to allowing the permit, citing problems previously experienced by residents along 189th Street, a county road known locally as Anderson Turnpike or the “haul road”. During a 2013-2014 resurfacing project along U.S. 75 in Osage and Shawnee counties, the quarry was used by Bettis Asphalt, Topeka, for an asphalt plant under a conditional use permit issued by the county.

According to Davis, residents counted up to 140 loads of materials passing by on the road in one day, and the dust created by the traffic caused problems for drivers and residents who live nearby. He said dust control wasn’t applied to the road as promised by the county.

“We’ve not had a treatment yet this year,” Davis said.

“The people who live on that road don’t have a life,” he said. “Their quality of life is horrible.”

He noted the project continued for months.

David Thompson, chairman of the county planning and zoning board, agreed, saying, “We don’t need any more traffic on that road.”

Osage County Commissioner Gaylord Anderson also spoke against approval of the permit last month. The planning and zoning board’s recommendation will be considered by the county commissioners for approval or rejection, following a 30-day protest period.

“We had a lot of kickback from citizens when it became more than quarry traffic,” Anderson said. “It really, really increased traffic. I feel sorry for the people who live on that road.”

Davis questioned why other sites closer to the project hadn’t been considered for the plant location.

“If KDOT wants to have an asphalt plant, they have two properties on (Highway) 31 to use,” Davis said.

With the board reaching a consensus that another location might be more suitable, Hamilton agreed to look at a site along K-31 that was Kansas Department of Transportation property.

Dave Yearout, adviser for the planning and zoning board, said that if the company located the asphalt plant on state property, a county permit would not be required.

The board agreed to continue the public hearing until this month’s planning and zoning meeting, giving Hamilton time to research other locations.

Calling the July 28 meeting to order, Thompson noted that no representatives for the applicant were present, and he asked the board members to allow the agenda to be changed so that the asphalt plant permit was the last item to be discussed, although it was the only item of discussion listed on the agenda.

The board then discussed a plan underway to relax lot split regulations in the county, and discussed an easement issue at Carbondale, in which the county and zoning board has no jurisdiction. Concluding that discussion, Thompson noted that no one representing the construction company had appeared, but said the board had heard from the company through the county’s land use development office.

Becky Bartley, county land use coordinator, clarified that she hadn’t heard from Chester Bross, but had heard from a representative of Bettis Asphalt.

“Bettis Asphalt called me,” Bartley said, saying she was told the suggested alternative site along the K-31 was not suitable for the project.

“They said Bettis has a vested interest in this project because they’ve already crushed the rock,” she said.

The board considered whether to continue the hearing until next month, but noted the hearing had been continued once and the applicant wasn’t present to provide more information as was planned at the last meeting.

Citing lack of information available to support approval of the permit, the board voted unanimously to recommend to the county commissioners that the permit be denied.

Yearout said the commissioners would decide whether to accept the planning and zoning board’s recommendation or send the application back to the board for more consideration. He said the protest period allowed any citizen to file a statement opposing or supporting the permit.

Chester Bross Construction is currently resurfacing U.S. 75 from the Osage County line south to Burlington. That project is scheduled to be completed by early October

Toxic gravel in Kansas roads?

During both meetings, Davis questioned the board about a type of material he said was being stored at the Plummer Creek Quarry. In June, Davis said he had learned that chat from Picher, Okla., had been stockpiled at the quarry for about two years.

At one time, huge piles of chat, tailings from mining operations, surrounded towns such as Picher in the Tri-State Mining area, which includes the southeast corner of Kansas, southwest Missouri, and northeast Oklahoma. The chat was later determined to be contaminated with lead and heavy metals, and the area was eventually designated as the Tar Creek Superfund site. A federal buyout program paid people to leave Picher, now a modern ghost town, after it was thought the town was in imminent danger of collapsing into the abandoned mines and a cleanup of the heavy metals would be too costly.

“Picher was America’s worst manmade disaster,” Davis said. “That town was totally destroyed. That chat is dangerous, especially as a dust.”

“It’s been [at Plummer Creek Quarry] for two years and that runoff goes right down Plummer Creek and right into Pomona Lake,” he said.

At that meeting, Hamilton said he was aware there was chat at the quarry, but his company would not use chat for the K-31 project.

“Our current mix design does not have anything to do with chat,” Hamilton said. “That’s all being brought in by KDOT.

“KDOT’s pushing it hard,” he said, adding that his company is “putting it in Missouri mixes.”

Yearout cautioned the board there was no confirmation that toxic materials were being stored at the quarry.

“If it is material that had been stockpiled at Picher, I would be stunned if they hauled that material here,” Yearout said.

Asked by an audience member, Yearout confirmed that storage of toxic material at the quarry would not be allowed by its current permit.

When Davis inquired about the chat at Tuesday’s meeting, Thompson told him, “I’m not the health department. It’s already there,” referring to the chat.

Yearout said the issue of the chat was not part of the application being considered, but suggested the county should review the quarry’s conditional use permit to ensure it is in compliance. He said to determine if the storage of chat at the quarry was part of the quarry’s permitted activities, the county should “bring them back in for a review.”


One Response to Board recommends denial of permit for asphalt plant at Plummer Creek Quarry

  1. Kym Fitch says:

    You have done a great job with this informative article. Thank you.

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