Sugar Creek looks at mining, blasting

Sugar Creek looks at mining, blasting
Published: 30 November 2006

The debate over blasting and limestone mining continues in Sugar Creek.  
 
The city’s Board of Aldermen on Monday night heard the first reading of an ordinance that would establish new regulations on blasting. Final action, however, remains weeks away, Mayor Stan Salva said.  
 
“We are not going to jump into anything,” he added. “We are not going to take a vote until we have a chance to really consider the input we are getting. A lot of people put a lot of effort into this.”  
 
The mining and blasting dialogue in Sugar Creek are continuing along separate tracks. 
 
First, before the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission are applications from the Sugar Creek operation of Lafarge Corp., which manufactures cement, to pursue mining operations in an area near Missouri 291 and Kentucky Road. Many residents near the area worry that blasting associated with mining could hurt home values.  
 
In November, the commission voted to delay its decision. The commission’s next meeting is scheduled 7 p.m. Dec. 14.  
 
Second, a new blasting ordinance, on the board’s agenda Monday night, continues to be studied.  
 
The city’s current blasting ordinance dates to the 1980s. Last week Joe Willerth, a lawyer representing homeowners in three subdivisions, submitted an analysis of the proposed ordinance that included several possible modifications. Those included language regulating the amount of noise produced by blasting and mining operations, the completion of pre-blast surveys and specific penalties for violations.  
 
Lafarge representatives also have submitted suggestions, Salva said. The board could vote on the blasting ordinance in the next several weeks.  
 
“I would like to get some closure on this whole thing by late January or early February,” Salva said.  
 
Meanwhile, some citizens are nervous, said Jim Stone, a resident of the Farview subdivision. That and two other subdivisions also stand near other mining areas, as well as a landfill that opened 10 years ago.  
 
“We have been putting up with these problems for years,” Stone said. “This is revenue to the city and Sugar Creek, and historically the city has been reluctant to upset that revenue stream.”  
 
Salva, however, thinks city representatives can be proper stewards of the public interest. In the early 1990s Salva, then an aldermen, led the city’s review of the proposed Courtney Ridge Recycling and Disposal Facility. Many area residents opposed the landfill because of its location near the aquifer from which about 250,000 eastern Jackson County residents obtain drinking water.  
 
Still, the city approved the landfill in 1993, and two years later the Missouri Department of Natural Resources issued its authorization to build it.  
 
Salva thinks the city also is performing its due diligence on mining issues.  
 
“Although sometimes some of our critics have said we are taking this too lightly, we are not,” he said. “We have spent an awful lot of time and effort in this.  
 
“When we get our new ordinance in place, we will probably have some of the tightest blasting controls in the region,” he added.