Kaw River

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In a joint meeting of the Eudora City Planning Commission and the Lawrence/Douglas County Planning Commission Monday night in Lawrence, both commissions recommended that the Douglas County Commission, reject a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to Kaw Valley Companies for a proposed sand pit north of Eudora near the Kaw River.

The Eudora City Planning Commission voted unanimously to recommend to reject the permit and the Lawrence/Douglas County Commission voted 7-1 against it.

The joint meeting, a continuation of a February meeting where the issue was tabled pending further research, lasted three hours while both Commissions heard testimony from the Lawrence/Douglas County Planning Commission staff, representatives of both the City of Eudora and Kaw Valley Companies and finally, several citizens from the area.

Both sides again presented their arguments for and against the issue. Neither side offered much new information from the February meeting. This time around, the Lawrence/Douglas County Planning Commission seemed more receptive to the reasons and thoughts of the Eudora Planning Commission in recommending the rejection.

The City of Eudora restated that the close proximity to the cities well system was a major cause of concern. If the wells would be contaminated by surface water, the city would then have to radically change it’s water treatment facility and processes, at the cost of millions of dollars.

Lawrence/Douglas County Planning Commissioner Stan Rasmussen radically changed his stance from the February meeting. “I’m very conflicted about this application” Rasmussen said. “Sand is needed and it needs to be taken from outside the river not in it.” He later added that while he was neither swayed by the Lawrence/Douglas County Planning Commission staff’s reasoning for recommending rejection, he also said the application “doesn’t meet all the criteria necessary to recommend approval”.

Many other commissioners agreed with Rasmussen and also stated fears of the impact this project could cause to the nearby Eudora City wells, the jetty system used to help the flow of the Kaw River and the bridge leading across the river.  The only Commissioner to vote to recommend the permit was Chairman Blase.

A large group of citizens also voiced great opposition to proposed operation.  Scott Jackson, a local resident stated during the public comment section “Why are we still talking about this?  No one wants it other than those who are being paid” (referring to the representatives of Kaw Valley Companies).

Kurt Von Achen, Chairman of the Eudora City Planning Commission simply stated after the meeting that he was “pleased at the outcome.”

Lois Hamilton, a land owner next to the proposed site and vocal opponent was happy to see the recommendation of rejection. “I don’t think it (talking about the sand pit) does any good for the nearby land owners or the City. I’m not against progress, but I’ve owned this land since 1967 and I know what a flood does.”

Phil Struble, a representative of Kaw Valley Companies, stated “Obviously we’re disappointed in the decision. What I heard in there tonight was not a resounding ‘No’ though. There will be additional work to be done to prepare for the County Commission.”

The next step in this battle is for the Douglas County Commission to either approve or deny the CUP permit. That meeting will take place likely somewhere around the end of May or beginning of June.

“I will be back for the County Commission meeting” Hamilton emphatically stated.

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