“I can’t see any reason a mining operation would be of any benefit to our community,” resident Ron Yarbrough said. “There will be widespread property damages and property values will go down.”
The Sunrise Beach Planning Commission held a civil, if somewhat heated, hearing on the proposed Magruder quarry expansion Monday, November 6.
Magruder Companies operates a quarry in the Village of Sunrise Beach and has applied to Camden County P&Z to rezone an adjacent 30-acre tract at Highway 5 and Tree Lane to industrial from agriculture-residential.
With an intergovernmental agreement between the county and the village, Sunrise Beach has legal standing to comment on cases located within one-and-a-half miles of the city limits. The property in question is adjacent to the Village.
During the meeting last week, the Sunrise Beach Planning put together a list of comments and concerns to send to Camden County officials who will hold an initial hearing on the rezoning case Wednesday, Nov. 15. On Monday night, Nov. 13, the Sunrise Beach Board of Trustees finalized and approved its official comments to the county as a resolution.
Their initial comments are as follows:
1: While not currently a part of Sunrise Beach, the area is anticipated for future expansion. The requested industrial zoning is inconsistent with all zoning done by Sunrise Beach in the surrounding area, and will interfere with its plans.
2: The requested zoning will eliminate future commercial and residential growth, and will negatively impact property values for the foreseeable future.
3: They have concerns about damage to water and sewer infrastructure, which will increase costs for the city and present health hazards to the community.
4: They have concerns about the damage to private wells and sewer systems, as well as potential groundwater pollution.
5: The requested zoning will increase nuisances such as excessive noise and dust, presenting health and environmental hazards.
6: They are concerned about damages to property, both public and private.
7: They are concerned for the physical wellbeing of human and animal life surrounding the quarry.
8: They are concerned about the impact the increased traffic will have on the roads.
A large crowd of concerned citizens opposed to the expansion of the quarry which has a long history in the vicinity attended the Sunrise Beach meetings.
Before they held a point-by-point vote on their statements, the commission opened the floor to concerned citizens and a representative from Magruder Companies.
“We’re here for the community. It would be nice to hear what you think,” stated commissioner Ken Gerardy.
Resident Ron Yarbrough says he owns property about 277 feet away from the proposed expansion site. He asked why anyone would even consider putting a mining operation so close to a residential area.
“I can’t see any reason a mining operation would be of any benefit to our community,” he said. “There will be widespread property damages and property values will go down.”
Steven Haase seconded the opinion that property values would go down. Living in his home for fewer than three months, he said he would not have bought it had he known of the expansion proposal. His wife Sherry also brought up the issue of increased rock dust in the air, saying it could impact the health of those in the area.
Another woman who only identified herself as Norma was concerned about the wild life in the area as well as the health impacts, saying she has asthma and is concerned about the dust.
Clark Bollinger, overseer of 10 Magruder quarries, tried to get the board and crowd to see the positives aspects of the quarry in addition to their concerns.
“We’re looking at longevity in the community. In terms of positive or negative impact from the expansion, well, if you have a patio or any type of concrete work, it’s a positive. We follow all regulations, and strive to be a good neighbor,” he said.
Economically, Bollinger said that Camden County is their biggest customer, and if Magruder leaves, concrete costs will skyrocket in the area. He added that blasting procedures have changed since Magruder took over the quarry several years ago, and that with modern technology, they should be able to minimize damage. When asked about future plans for the site, Bollinger said they had none.
After all comments had been noted and considered, the commission said they had planned that area as a site of future growth for Sunrise Beach. But as the area is under direct control of Camden County, the best they could do is send their comments on the matter to the Camden County Commission for consideration on the zoning.
Yarbrough and a number of other concerned citizens have also been circulating a petition against the expansion, and have held meetings for public awareness.
Some of the concerned citizens attended the Nov. 13 trustees meeting and said they plan to attend the Camden County hearing Wednesday evening.
After the hearing either this month or next, the county planning board will make a recommendation on the rezoning and the case will go to the Camden County Commission for another hearing and final decision.
Magruder attempted to expand to this same tract in 2013.
At that time, the 30-acre tract was owned by Charles and Phyllis Turner with Magruder having an option to purchase. It is unclear at this time who owns the land.
Unlike then, the Troy, Mo.-based company is now going for straight industrial zoning which allows mining as a primary use.
In 2013, the business applied for general commercial zoning with a special use permit for mining. The plan then was to get an SUP restricting mining to 15 years with Magruder then promising to develop the leveled combined 60-acre site (current and proposed quarries) into a retail shopping center. That does not appear to be the case this time.
The rezoning and SUP were ultimately denied by the Camden County Commission of that time.
The zoning of surrounding properties includes mostly single family residential to the south and west with some agriculture-residential as well. There is general impact commercial zoning across the highway to the east and a small section of general commercial to the south on Highway 5.
The existing quarry in Sunrise Beach is not zoned for mining, but was grandfathered in as a preexisting non-conforming use.
There is a significant history between the quarry at this site and the residents, although not necessarily with Magruder. At one point, a group of residents formed the Sunrise Beach Quarry Accountability Committee after major complaints over alleged damage to property and safety.
While those complaints mainly occurred under a different quarry operator and owner, residents have been leery ever since, citing little governmental control over mining operations in Missouri.
The group’s efforts eventually lead to some changes in state blasting ordinances as well as the implementation of planning and zoning in Sunrise Beach in 2009.