A proposed conditional use permit (CUP) to temporarily operate an asphalt plant at a quarry in Sunrise Beach has been denied.
In a surprise turn, the board of trustees went against the recommendation made by its planning commission despite the commission's public hearing, extensive questioning of applicant Dean McDonald, vice president of Magruder Limestone, Inc., and official six page report stating that the proposal met code requirements for CUPs.
On Monday night, trustees voted unanimously that the CUP did not meet the stipulation for CUPs in the zoning ordinance regarding public health and safety. The board then voted unanimously to deny the CUP.
Both a trustee and a planning commissioner, Ray Kline voted against the CUP despite having voted to recommend it in the February vote by the planning commission.
Board of trustees chair Curt Mooney is also on the planning commission. He abstained from voting during the commission's vote on the CUP, saying he would save his vote for the trustee level. Mooney, however, did not vote on the issue at the trustee level, as the chair only votes in case of a tie.
Trustee Charlie Bott made the initial motion at the March 11 meeting that the asphalt plant did not meet the public health and safety criteria. He thanked the zoning commission for its work but said he "could not agree with their recommendation."
Bott cited past lung issues of a resident near a prior asphalt plant at the quarry which had different operators and a different system.
Trustee Debby Stoller made a point of agreeing with Bott's concern about the health of nearby residents. Board Chair Curt Mooney also shared concerns about the comfort and general health of nearby residents due to emissions as well as truck traffic at night.
Village attorney Greg Williams commented, "The use cries out to be placed in industrial (zone)."
The town, however, does not have any land zoned for industrial use. The quarry is zoned general commercial, but is grandfathered as a non-conforming pre-existing use under the zoning code.
There was one household within city limits near the proposed plant, according to Williams, and a couple of households near the plant that were outside municipal limits.
In the planning commission's report on its recommendation in favor of the CUP — prepared by P&Z administrator Roger Corbin — the CUP did meet the public health and safety requirement.
"The Commission reviewed the MDNR (Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources) permit for the asphalt facility, and based upon its review, concluded that appropriate environmental controls will be in place to prevent any adverse public health concerns. The Commission found that applicable MoDOT regulations will prevent any adverse traffic impacts. The Commission did not receive any evidence that would support a finding that the issuance of the CUP would endanger the public health, safety, morals, comfort, or general welfare," the report stated.
Some commissioners' stated reasons for recommending the CUP was, in fact, because of concern about public safety.
They wanted to keep truck traffic at the quarry to a minimum during the project. With the asphalt plant at a different location from the quarry, there will have to be more truck trips as they haul rock to the plant as well as asphalt away from the plant.
In a related stipulation for CUPs — that they not be injurious to the use and enjoyment of nearby properties — the commission also found no issue. All surrounding properties within the city are zoned medium density commercial, and are either used for commercial purposes or are vacant.
"No evidence was received that the proposed CUP by this Applicant would injurious to the commercial uses permitted on these adjoining properties within the City. Evidence was received that similar uses by another party in the past did cause significant issues for surrounding property owners. The short duration of the CUP requested will allow the City to terminate this use if similar issues arise as a result of this Applicant's activities," the report stated.
The plant would have been located in the interior of the quarry — down in the hole — a location that McDonald had said would help buffer the noise.
He also testified before the planning commission that the different type of plant and product additives would significantly reduce odor from the plant, which had also passed the emissions test from the MDNR.
Despite a change in the operator, Bott remarked that the asphalt plant had "historically been a bad neighbor."
He also commented that the proposed asphalt plant was not a public necessity but a private one. The temporary plant was proposed after Magruder Limestone won the low bid with the Missouri Department of Transportation to resurface nearly 28 miles of Hwy. 5 through the Westside and add four-foot shoulders in this area as well as resurface three miles of Hwy. 54 in Camden County.
The plant was not in place when Magruder got the contract, but they made the bid, said McDonald in prior testimony, with the idea that the asphalt plant would operate at the same site as their quarry - all located close to the job. Because of that assumption, they offered a much lower bid on the project than any of the other contenders, giving the state substantial savings on the project.
Another concern, said Mooney, was that a precedent would be set with the CUP, and that they would then have to allow a CUP every time a highway in the area was to be resurfaced or when other roads were paved.
"If you open a bag of worms, you have a bag worms," Bott commented in agreement with Mooney.
A couple of county residents who live in the vicinity of the quarry were happy with the trustees' decision.
Ed and Elaine Curtis were two of four residents who attended both the planning commission hearing and the trustee meeting over the proposed CUP, which they opposed.
Elaine said she was glad that the board had voted against the CUP.
"Smell doesn't know boundaries," said Ed.
The couple were also concerned about the plant affecting property values in the area. They live about 400 feet from the quarry, according to Ed.
• Editor's Note: It was originally reported in this story that Sunrise Beach Board of Trustees Chair Curt Mooney voted against the conditional use permit. But as explained in the corrected version of the story, the chair of the board only votes in case of a tie. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused.