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The Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission and the Eudora Planning Commission held a joint meeting well into the night Wednesday to discuss a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for a sand pit to be located on the grounds of the old Eudora Country Club located near the Kaw River.
This CUP permit is the first step in a long regulatory process to allow Kaw Valley Companies of Kansas City, KS to operate the sand pit for a 20 year period.
During nearly three hours of testimony, the staff of the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission, the City of Eudora, and representatives of Kaw Valley Companies, presented their arguments why the permit should be issued or denied. Both the staff of the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission and the City of Eudora recommended against approving the permit based on the fact that the pit will be located close enough to the Eudora City Water well system there could be a potential conflict. Also brought into the discussion were possible ecological effects to the Kaw River and the outcome of those effects on the bridge that crosses the river into Leavenworth County.
Phil Struble of Landplan Engineering represented Kaw Valley Companies. In his presentation, he disputed those claims stating that reports commissioned by Kaw Valley Companies, stated there would not be an impact from the pit on the Eudora Well System.
Ned Marks, a geologist with Terrane Resources Co. was hired by the City of Eudora to review and verify the report that Kaw Valley Companies had completed. Marks stated that while he believed that the report was a “valid attempt to estimate the potential impact”, the numbers quoted and findings were inconclusive.
At the end of all the testimony, the Eudora Planning Commission unanimously to recommended to deny the CUP. Lawrence-Douglas County Commissioners saw the issue differently than the Eudora Planning Commission. Several of the Lawrence- Douglas County Commissioners, although not completely in favor of giving overwhelming support to approving the CUP, saw no reason to deny it. A minority of voices on the Lawrence-Douglas County Commission were against approving it. Enough indecisiveness and questions about the impact to both the river and the well system led the Commission to make no decision and hold off for at least 60 days on a decision. Both Kaw Valley and the City of Eudora were asked to bring more information to the Commission in the hopes of reaching a decision in the near future.
“I think we are going to sit back and review the specific recommendations that the Douglas County Planning Commission has” said John Harrenstein, Eudora City Administrator. “I’m very happy with the City of Eudora’s Planning Commission recommendation for denial. The Information that we have, indicates there could be detrimental effects to the water wells in Eudora. Any risks to the water wells in Eudora, risks the water supply for the 6200 citizens of the city.”
Several Eudora officials were caught off guard by the Lawrence-Douglas County Planning Commission’s decision.
Eudora Planning Commission Chairman Kurt von Achen, in reaction to the delay by his Lawrence counterparts said “It’s process. We’re going through it.” He said “We did our job and I think we did right for the City of Eudora, but we’re the little boys on the block.”
Harrenstein said “I’m surprised by the decision to defer, based on the overwhelming opposition from not only the citizens but our Planning Commission.”