Thursday, November 15, 2012
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Board of appeals hears opposition to quarry

Part 2

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[November 15, 2012]  Below is the continuation of an article posted on Wednesday regarding a request to rezone land for the purpose of mining limestone.

The request by landowner Douglas Muck would change 280 acres near the now deplete former rock quarry west of Lincoln from special district agriculture to extraction.

In review, last Thursday the Logan County Zoning Board of Appeals heard favorable comments that took the full evening.

That meeting adjourned to reconvene on Monday to hear opposition.

The Monday hearing, lasting over three hours, had a number of speakers covering several issues and concerns. An additional meeting was scheduled for Tuesday evening.

On Tuesday, the landowner requested a postponement until Dec 10 to bring further desired information forward. The appeals board agreed to that request.

On Wednesday, LDN brought you a summary of the first half of the comments made during the opposition portion of the hearing. (Part 1)


The concerns or opposition continued...

Mike Rapps, an engineer who has worked with land issues for nearly 40 years, was asked by Todd Turner, attorney for nearby resident Blaine Olson, to gather data on possible water problems that may arise.

Rapps gathered what data he could, and he came to the realization that the ground in question is very unpredictable. While the minerals in the area are consistent in terms of what is present, the amount of each mineral varies wildly throughout the land in question. As Rapps put it, the land is "total chaos." He explained that it is simply too difficult to make sense of the land composition. He compared normal land to a layer cake, and this land is "more like a soufflé."

Along with the seemingly random mineral deposits in the area, bits and pieces of an aquifer can also be found deep under the surface. The pieces cannot be put together into one solid map, however.

Finally, Rapps said he does not have enough information to make a solid prediction as to what will happen to the water table should a quarry be built. Furthermore, in his opinion, the applicant should be conducting studies on this potentially serious issue.

Rapps did provide data from studies of other areas with similarly chaotic compositions.

Muck stated that this data on other areas is irrelevant, as it is not data concerning the land where the quarry would be built.

Don Ludwig, Olson's neighbor and an objector to the rezoning application, also spoke to the appeals board. Ludwig and his wife live on 1400th Street, about a mile and a quarter from the proposed quarry.

Ludwig began by saying that he appreciates the opportunity to bring his concerns to the attention of public officials. As it stands, this is the only real chance the public has to speak on the issue. Ludwig also echoed earlier statements as to the lack of answered questions from Hanson Material Services, as well as the concerns over the water table.

Ludwig's main concern is the presence of natural gas in the area. Last fall, a natural gas leak occurred in the surrounding area. Ludwig's home was unaffected, but it easily could have been. Ludwig is worried about the state of that natural gas. The gas could be a danger due to the constant shifting of ground at the quarry, and gas pressure could build once again and leak out. A gas leak poses significant risk, especially when the quarry would be detonating explosives.

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Ludwig also said that while he has not talked to previous neighbors of Hanson Material Services, the company has not struck him as particularly neighborly.

"I don't know what the quarry was doing to make them enjoy living next to it; it just wasn't visually evident to me," said Ludwig.

Finally, Ludwig wonders why Hanson did not try sooner to find more rock if they knew the supply at the previous quarry was running out.

Ludwig's attorney, John Myers, echoed the concern that nobody really knows for sure just who the company in charge of the quarry would be. All anyone has heard is that Muck is working with Hanson, yet they have not been present for questioning.

Steve Schreiner, who also lives on 1400th Avenue, reiterated that he is not convinced his well will not go dry, and he would like to see guarantees that his needs will be addressed. Schreiner also commented that while the previous quarry grounds do look better than they have in previous years, the reclamation efforts are still an eyesore.

George Mueller, Schreiner's attorney, referred to this as a "trust me" case by Muck. Essentially, Mueller is saying that Muck is telling his opponents that everything will be taken care of if problems arise in the future, but he has not done the work needed to guarantee that statement.

Mueller also said that attaching conditions to the rezoning application may not be the best idea, as the legality of such an action is a gray area.

Members of the zoning appeals board present were chairman Doug Thompson, Dean Toohey, Rick Sheley and Wilbur Paulus. Logan County zoning officer Will D'Andrea was also present.

When the hearing continued on Tuesday evening, Muck said he had been in discussions with Hanson all day and believed he could get the company to commit to some contracts and to have a representative attend the hearing, if it could be delayed 30 days.

The appeals board agreed to Muck's request and set Dec. 10 to reconvene. The board is expected to reach its decision at that time.

The opinion of the appeals board is given to the Logan County Board. The county board is the final decider on zoning requests. The recommendations of the zoning appeals board and the regional planning commission weigh heavily in the decision process, but the county board makes the final decision.

The regional planning commission has already voted in favor of the rezoning request.

The county board's planning and zoning committee has been reviewing the information, checking legal aspects with the state's attorney's office, and is preparing to assist the board in reviewing the matter when it is presented.


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