The Missouri Department of Natural Resources has approved a permit to allow a limestone quarry project to proceed at Pryor Road and Interstate 470.
In a March 7 memorandum, a Reclamation Program Kevin Mohammadi, staff director of the Land Reclamation Program, is recommending issuing the permit with two conditions: no blasting and that the operation take precautions to avoid harming hibernating bats.
Parts of the mine are home to Missouri’s third-largest colony of tri-colored bats, but they are not an endangered specie.
Mohammadi also recommended that the company proposing the quarry, The Family Ranch, hire a geotechnical study of the area to determine how the operation will affect the mine’s roof that might affect adjacent property.
Mohammadi says the MDNR does not have jurisdiction over the underground mines stability, truck traffic, property values or noise pollution, which were objections raised by opponents.
Lee’s Summit businessman Flip Short, owner of The Family Ranch, plans to drop the roof of a long-dormant underground mine on 70 acres he owns at the northwest corner of Pryor Road and the interstate. The company will mine, crush and sell the rock, a few acres at a time, and plans to making the site ready for future development. The abandoned mine is unstable and collapsing in areas, so isn’t suitable for buildings on Short’s land.
Short also is planning commercial development at the View High Drive intersection.
Some neighbors and Lee’s Summit residents farther from the site have opposed the project, fearing effects of the quarrying, particularly blasting. Short has agreed to drill the rock and use hydraulic machines to split the rock instead of explosives.
Opponents have 30 days from March 7 to make a request of a formal hearing by the Land Reclamation Commission to ask it to reverse the decision, but the commission can refuse the request.
Carol Siegrist, president of Bent Tree Bluffs Homeowners Association, said the homeowners appreciate the recognition by the MDNR that it was important to forbid explosives. Some residents of that subdivision south of the quarry, on the opposite side of the interstate, were concerned about damage to homes and other possible problems. The backfilling may protect the colony of bats and minimize the potential for disturbance or destruction to the neighboring portions of the mine but it is disappointing that the state did not require further studies to satisfy outstanding concerns, she said.
Short said his company does plan to consult with engineering firms Terracon, URS and possibly others to make sure the project isn’t causing problems in mine stability for neighbors. He said that in addition to not using explosives, Kevin Thomas, who will run the crushing operation, has come up with an idea to increase safety and prevent slabs of rock from dropping the 12 feet from roof to mine floor, which some were concerned could cause damaging vibrations. The plan is to slip shipping containers into the mine under the roof so there are only a few inches of a drop when rock breaks free, Short said.
He said that removing explosives from the operation was decision that benefitted his plan and neighborhoods. As rock is removed and crushed, the area will be backfilled and planted with grass.
“We do want to do the best we can in the community,” Short said. “We’re 100-percent sure this will be taken care of at the commission meeting. We’re ecstatic and so happy the project is going to take off.”