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Sand Pit Mine Delayed

posted Feb 24, 2011, 11:35 AM by Dr. Cynthia Annett   [ updated Feb 24, 2011, 11:43 AM ]

Town Talk: sand pit near Eudora gets delayed

By Chad Lawhorn Lawrence Journal-World

February 24, 2011

It certainly was a sand through the hourglass type of event Wednesday night at the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission. Planners for three and a half hours debated a proposal to allow a sand pit operation on about 195 acres at 2102 N. 1500 Road, which is the site of an old golf course just north of Eudora. After nearly four hours of debate, Lawrence-Douglas County planning commissioners did what they sometimes do with tough issues: They deferred it. They’ll go through the exercise again in another 60 to 90 days. Yes, like sand through an hourglass, these are the days of my life.

The issue does appear to be a ticklish one, though. The proposed site is in a critical area for two pieces of important infrastructure. Right near the site are the water wells that the city of Eudora uses to supply its approximately 6,000 residents. Near the site also is Eudora’s Kaw River bridge, a key crossing for all of eastern Douglas County. City of Eudora planners are concerned that the sand pit operations may damage both pieces of infrastructure.

There’s concern that all the digging required to do sand pit mining may damage the water table that supplies the city of Eudora’s wells. A study commissioned by the applicant — Kaw Valley Companies — found the operations won’t affect the well field. A study commissioned by the city of Eudora was inconclusive. That concerned planners.

Also, the city of Eudora expressed concern that all the digging could cause the river to shift course in a way that would threaten the abutments to the nearby Kansas River bridge. Kaw Valley representatives noted the Corps of Engineers will study that possibility during its permitting process for the plant. That process hasn’t yet begun.

Probably one of the more interesting parts of the meeting was listening to people talk about what happened in 1993 when a 100-year flood hit the area. Longtime farmer John Pendleton told the commission how he lost 20 acres of ground pretty much in a single day because the river decided to shift course.

The Eudora Planning Commission met in joint session with the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission, since the site is less than a half-mile outside the Eudora city limits. The Eudora Planning Commission unanimously voted to recommend denial of the project. Its recommendation will be forwarded to the Douglas County Commission, which will make the final decision on the project.

But that won’t happen until Lawrence-Douglas County planning commissioners make their recommendation. Some planning commissioners noted there’s a real balancing act here. There are all the above concerns, but there’s also the fact that sand is important. It is a key component in a lot of construction and manufacturing processes. Many existing sand quarrying operations are starting to run out of material, and there’s more and more pressure to no longer dredge the Kansas River for sand. It seems Douglas County has good potential for the sand pit type of operations. This is the second request in a year for a sand pit. The other one — which was near Midland Junction north of North Lawrence — was rejected for a whole other set of reasons.

“We find reasons to say no to these requests,” said Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commissioner Brad Finkeldei. “But I think we do ultimately need to find a place where this will work.”

go to original story in Lawrence Journal World