Eudora News and Information – www.eudorareporter.com
Story by Aaron Couch, courtesy The Lawrence Journal-World
After close to five hours of discussion, the Douglas County Commission postponed a vote on a conditional use permit sought for a sand-dredging operation north of Eudora.
Kaw Valley Companies Inc. had planned the operation for the floodplain along the Kansas River north of Eudora. The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission in April recommended denying the conditional use permit on a 7-1-1 vote, and it was up to county commissioners whether to heed that recommendation. Commissioners will pick up the discussion in January.
“I’m more concerned with trying to be right than trying to be quick,” said County Commissioner Jim Flory.
The Eudora planning commission voted unanimously to deny the permit.
The city of Eudora has expressed concern over the project’s impact on the city’s drinking water supply and said the plan would go against Eudora’s comprehensive land-use plan.
But representatives from Kaw Valley Companies Inc. asked county commissioners to send the permit back to the Planning Commission to allow the commission to reconsider the recommendation in light of new information Kaw Valley said had recently come together.
The new information included:
• A 60-page letter dated Nov. 28 from the Army Corps of Engineers that Kaw Valley employee Alan Teutemacher said painted a better picture of the potential impact of the project on Eudora’s water supply.
• A revised version of the study on the impact of the project on Eudora’s ground wells. The revised study was completed in March, before the planning commission’s final meeting on the project. Kaw Valley Companies contended the planning commission may not have been presented with it before it made its recommendation. It was not clear Wednesday whether this had been the case.
• A letter dated Monday from the Friends of the Kaw Inc., an organization that advocates for the protection of the Kansas River. In the letter, the organization said it judged the revised plans from Kaw Valley Companies would pose no “imminent danger” to Eudora’s water wells.
Flory said he was still concerned about the possibility of damage to Eudora’s water supply, leaving the city responsible for an expensive problem.
Larry Winn, a land-use consultant working on behalf of Kaw Valley Companies, said the company had added the city of Eudora to its environmental damage insurance policy, which covered up to $1 million in damage in the “one-in-a-million” chance something went wrong.
A number of Eudora residents expressed concern about the project, particularly the impact it might have on the Kansas River in the event of a flood. Mark Neis, Eudora farmer, said the permit should be denied. He said most of the new information did not appear to differ much from what was originally presented a year ago.
The city of Eudora recommended that county commissioners vote based upon the recommendations of the planning commissions. Scott Michie, a consultant to city of Eudora planning commission, said that if commissioners denied the application, Kaw Valley Companies could submit a new application based upon the new information they were presenting.