The hearing was convened to hear the arguments on whether or not a
piece of land in the county should be rezoned for a different
There had been a meeting for this purpose on Sept. 6, but
it was deemed invalid due to improper legal description in the
public notice. However, the participants were encouraged to submit
written reports for the written record, detailing their arguments
from the previous meeting and any research that was involved.
The land in question measures 280 acres and is bordered by 900th
Avenue and 1400th Street. The landowner, Doug Muck, has submitted an
application to request that the land be rezoned from special
district agriculture to extraction.
If it is converted, the land can be used for rock-crushing and
excavation of minerals. Hanson Material Service of Springfield,
which operated the current quarry west of Lincoln, has expressed
interest in moving its operation to this location. The current
quarry is in the process of being shut down.
Muck's land holds a supply of limestone.
Right now, those buying limestone have to pay extra costs to have
the stone transported from surrounding areas, as the current quarry
has run out.
Limestone is heavily used in road building. Agricultural lime
could also be mined for farming. Lime increases the quality of soil
for growing corn and soybean crops by making soil less acidic,
increasing the uptake of nutrients. It is typically applied by the
ton per acre to the soil types in this area every five to seven
Objections have been filed by neighbors of the property: Blaine
Olson, Steve Schreiner and Don Ludwig previously mailed a letter
detailing their concerns to Doug Muck. Muck addressed these concerns
as part of his presentation.
Before Muck could elaborate on his application and why his land
should be rezoned, George Mueller stepped forward with his own
paperwork for the appeals board. He was present as the attorney for
Steve Schreiner. Mueller wanted to see three motions passed. John
Myers, an attorney representing Don Ludwig, worked with Mueller on
creating these motions.
First, Mueller wanted to ensure that this matter would require a
three-quarters vote from the appeals board. Second, he wanted the
meeting dismissed due to a lack of planning commission involvement,
as Muck had altered his petition since the last meeting. Finally,
Mueller wanted a motion passed that would allow for a new hearing
with the planning commission.
Furthermore, Mueller and Myers did not receive the relevant
documents from Muck until earlier that day, and they believed they
did not have adequate preparation time before the hearing.
The appeals board received Mueller's paperwork, but the meeting
was not dismissed. Zoning officer Will D'Andrea corrected Mueller by
saying that a new meeting with the planning commission was not
necessary. While Muck did alter his application, it was never
removed from the system, so a new meeting was not needed.
After Mueller's objections were noted, Muck began to give his
argument. All three of the opposing attorneys -- Mueller, Myers and
Todd Turner, who is Blaine Olson's attorney -- asked that Muck and
his supporters be sworn in before their testimonies, which did not
Muck began by saying that he has been working with Hanson on this
potential project for the past six years. Due to economic
constraints the company has been facing, some renegotiating has been
done recently, but Hanson still wishes to have a mine in Logan
Hanson employs at least 18 people locally, some of whom were
present for the hearing.
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Muck also said he would like to see the asphalt plant remain in
Lincoln, which would also benefit from a new mine, as they need the
limestone for road rock. Furthermore, Muck admitted that since the
land is his and he would be leasing it to Hanson, he would like to
see a personal profit come from the operations.
One of the concerns Muck addressed was that of the aesthetics of
the plant. Muck responded by saying that if one goes to the area in
question, the quarry would actually be blocked from Olson's view by
a line of trees. Screening berms, which would be built by Hanson,
might be visible over the tree line.
As to the aesthetics of tearing down the previous plant, Muck
explained that photos of the reclamation efforts reflect the final
gathering of equipment in one location in anticipation of moving to
the new quarry. Muck said the rest of the land has been cleared of
equipment and structures.
Another issue is the danger presented by current roadways. Right
now, there is a curved road that could provide entrance to the
potential plant. Hanson has plans in mind for a new intersection
that would be built with the cooperation of the road commissioner
and the county engineer. Muck claimed that the relevant parties have
been contacted about those plans.
Muck pointed out that historically, previous mining applications
were approved for the surrounding area in 1971, 1978 and 1984.
As to the potential lowering of surrounding property value, Muck
explained that he could not really speak to that matter, as the
assessors he had spoken to could not really provide figures due to a
lack of experience with this issue. Muck also said that the previous
mine did not stop people from building homes nearby.
Muck said he is surprised that the objectors have not asked
neighbors of the previous quarry what living near such a business
would be like. Neighbors have had few problems with Hanson over the
"I would think that these folks who are worried about this would
have talked to the neighbors to find out what their experiences
were," said Muck.
Other issues discussed, including truck traffic and wells, will
be presented on Monday.
The meeting was ended due to time constraints, and an extension
was set for Monday in the same location. The appeals board is hoping
to have a recommendation to make to the county board after the
Members of the zoning appeals board present were chairman Doug
Thompson, Dean Toohey, Rick Sheley and Wilbur Paulus. Zoning officer
Will D'Andrea was also present.
[By DEREK HURLEY]
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