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Sand and gravel officials state their case

By Alan McArthur
Landmark reporter

A proposed sand and gravel extraction pit in Platte County near Waldron has caused a stir among local residents.

In an exclusive interview with The Landmark, Kansas City Sand and Gravel developer Dave Penny explained what his plans for the area are and why in his opinion the development is needed.

“Low rainfall up north has caused the Missouri River to carry less sediment and sand,” said Penny. “The Corps is considering restricting dredging on the Missouri River.”

A study done by the Corps of Engineers is recommending the restriction of river dredging along the Missouri River. Dredging along the Kansas River has already been ceased because of low water flow and beddegradation.

“MoDOT wrote a letter to the Corps saying it could jeopardize highway projects in the Kansas City area,” said Penny.

According to the letter from the Missouri Department of Transportation, MoDOT, if all dredging operations on the Missouri River were halted, the increase cost for highway projects in a year would be at least $4 million for barge shipment. The cost to supply the sand by truck would be more than $14 million.

The letter stated, “the proposed limiting of dredging on the Missouri River will have substantial fiscal impacts to MoDOT and the taxpayers of Missouri. Also of great concern to MoDOT is the potential for delivery delays in getting sand to our projects. If there are delays in getting sand from alternate locations this will delay projects for motorists. These delays will also cause significant financial impacts to our contractors.”

“The problem is having sufficient supplies for road projects,” said Penny. “We looked at land on both the east and west sides of Kansas City to start operations. The Dillingham family wants to sell and we came to terms. We are buying the land on the condition of receiving zoning approval.”
The proposed development would be on nearly 1,400 acres of agriculture land. According to Penny, the operation would use 40 acres for a plant and would dig out 10 acres a year and could last up to 50 years, digging out 500 to 600 acres land. The remaining 800 acres would be green space or remain farming land.

However, since holding a public meeting about the proposed development, some residents of the town of Waldron have organized to oppose the operation. They have even started a website: to organize their efforts and ask for help.

“We're trying to work with the residents of Waldron to resolve this,” said Penny. “We have opposition to the noise, but they have trains 200 feet from most of the homes at least 45 times a day. We're a mile away from the town and there will be one machine that's not louder than a farm tractor and it will be 20 feet down in a hole.”

Another issue brought up by some of the residents is the storage of the sand which will be in piles nearly 100 feet tall.

“I got a professional photographer and went to Waldron to see if you could see a 100 foot pile from a mile away,” said Penny. “You couldn't.”

Another concern raised has about the area's agricultural levee system. With the mining operation, a lake would be created on the inside of the levee district and some residents are worried the lake would back up with water if the river flooded.

“The operation would be required to stay back at least 500 feet from the current levee, but I think we can work to raise the levees there now,” said Penny. “No developer wants to have their land flood, it would be too big of a liability.”

According to Penny, he has a method of extracting the sand and leaving a blue water lake.
“There are no other blue water lakes in the area. All of the other ones have clay and collect the sediment, which makes them brown. I would build a berm around the lake to keep the runoff from entering the lake.

One of the other issues raised by residents is the amount of truck traffic from the plant. Penny expects there will be about 160 trucks a day at the peak times, which would go out Moore's Ferry Road to Highway 45, with the majority going south to Interstate 435.

“The trucks will keep a mile away from the town and we are going to make improvements along 45 Highway,” said Penny.

The improvements include the construction of turn lanes along the Highway as well as an improved railroad crossing on Moore's Ferry Road.

Penny said he is working with MoDOT to improve the intersection and ensure safety along 45 Highway. Part of that safety was a traffic study done on the area to gauge the number of vehicles that pass the intersection.

The study also suggested adding turn lanes to ease the merging of trucks at the intersection.
One option may be that MoDOT would rather have the intersection reconstructed to improve the safety.

“I am willing to do that,” said Penny.

Part of the proposed plan for the area after mining is to construct several new baseball fields as well as a donation of land along the river to help the county construct the Missouri Riverfront Trail from Parkville to Weston.

Another proposed idea by Penny is to use the large lake created to be a competitive rowing course.

“In Knoxville they built a rowing course and generated about $58 million for local businesses,” said Penny. “The only problem is it usually costs around $150 million to build a course.

According to Penny there are not very many courses in the world where professional rowers can train and having one in Platte County would be a draw for people from around the world.
Penny said the project would have several benefits to the county.

“This will increase the tax base as well as help with ice control on roadways,” said Penny. “I'm trying to work with the county to keep costs down and it would decrease the cost of county road jobs.”

According to Penny, a large portion of the cost for sand depends on the distance it must be transported, by having a facility in the county it would decrease the cost. Also about half concrete is represented by sand and the other portion is rock and concrete mix.

Penny feels he is addressing the concerns of the residents and is willing to remove the ideas of parks and the rowing course from the plan to get approval from the citizens.

“So from a mile away you can't see the plant, and sound would be non-existent,” said Penny. “I've tried to minimize the impact, but they don't seem to think so. It looks like people there just don't want any change. They just don't want any human traffic in the area.”

Penny is currently working with local residents of Waldron to attempt to find a compromise before moving forward with applying for a Special Use Permit from the Planning and Zoning Department. He hopes to begin dirt work and the operation starting sometime in 2009.



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