Quarry proposal in Lee’s Summit promises no blasting

rpulley@lsjournal.comFebruary 12, 2014 

No blasting will happen at a proposed rock quarry at Pryor Road and Interstate 470 in Lee’s Summit.

The project’s owner, Flip Short, has announced that instead of explosives, the excavators will use only a mechanical system that uses hydraulics to expand wedges in holes drilled into the rock to split it. Then it can be broken into smaller pieces by another machine, a hoe-ram, and crushed.

At a meeting Feb. 6, at the American Legion Hall in Lee’s Summit, Short and his team met with opponents and representatives of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to discuss a permit for the project.

Kevin Mohammadi, programming director for land reclamation with the department, said the MDNR staff next will make a recommendation on a permit for the project by the company known as The Family Ranch. It is expected to be on the Land Reclamation Commission’s agenda in May. Opponents can also ask for a formal hearing, which if granted would go to a moderator for still more testimony, who would then come back to the commission with a recommendation.

At the Feb. 6 meeting, Short elaborated on his plan. Critics re-emphasized their worries about dust, noise, vibrations, truck traffic and fear of an unsightly quarry.

“You can sugar coat it all you want, it will be a huge, ugly hole in the ground,” said Andy Bost, a homeowner in the Bent Tree Bluffs subdivision.

Short and his team contend that because of a bluff running along the highway, and other topography, residents or highway travelers won’t be able to see the quarry from the interstate. The mine will be operating on only a few acres at a time, in an already industrial area, including concrete and asphalt plants which residents now hardly notice, they said.

The project is to reclaim about 70 acres of land along the highway, which is undercut by a limestone mine, and too unstable to support building new structures above it.

Eventually Short hopes to redevelop that land, a promise opponents think is iffy. Short said he realizes it will be impossible to persuade all of his critics of the merits of the project. He links it to a long-term effort to develop from View High Drive east and a $240 million entertainment district, with apartments and soccer complex he is working on developing at View High Drive.

“It’s of no value to us to dig a gravel pit and leave,” Short said. “It would be a horrible investment for us to do that.”

About 60 people were at the several-hours-long meeting.

Opponents, like Jim Tosser, asked that Short employ someone with experience in using the mechanical devices and taking down defunct mines. He suggested Short should start the permitting process over, including a more definite plan and a stipulation against blasting, rather than the evolving picture that’s emerged during applications to the city and state.

Short said he thinks amending the current application to forbid blasting is a good idea, to give future assurance to residents, if for some reason he is no longer owner.

The discussion mostly covered territory already aired, worries about dust, noise, truck traffic and whether the quarry will be visible from their homes.

The few residents who live adjacent to the site said removal of the mine roof could destabilize the mine under their land.

“Do you have a safety plan to protect us and protect our homes?” asked Rod Gravitt, who said he intends to grow mushrooms in the mine where it extends under his property. He didn’t get a direct answer.

Christine Bushyhead, attorney for Short’s project, reiterated that the MDNR and other agencies have responsibility to approve and enforce technical plans that have to be submitted to allow the project to go forward.

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