A Quarry in Our Backyard
Wed, 07/28/2021 - 4:26pm admin
Amanda Mendez, Publisher
“What is ‘bout a man who sees a good piece of land and says ‘Hey, I’m gonna blow it all to sand?’ He doesn’t understand that’s our backyard.” Quarry Anthem, Big Smith, Baptists at our Barbecue, Baby Sync Publishing
Proposed quarry activities on Highway 17 near the Eleven Point River in Mountain View have prompted neighboring landowners to request a public meeting with the property owner. According to Larry Lehman, Director of the Land Reclamation Program for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, this meeting has not yet been scheduled.
“To clarify, this is not an actual formal hearing,” Lehman told Howell County News. Rather, it will be an informal chance for anyone with concerns or questions about the proposed quarry to meet with the property owner as well as representatives of the DNR. According to the inquiries made by this publication, landowners in the immediate area will have plenty of concerns to air at the as-yet-unscheduled meeting.
About the Quarry
Information from the DNR revealed the Land Reclamation Program received a permit application from KTF Quarries, LLC on June 22. The mine plan is for a total of 103-acres.
“The plan is to reclaim the property to 50-acres of agriculture, 13-acres of development, and a 40-acre water impoundment after mining is complete,” wrote Lehman in an email. Actual mining activities will be confined to two four-acre tracts.
Proposed mining activities to harvest limestone and sandstone are scheduled to take place between August 12 and December 31.
“The Department's Water Protection Program has also made contact with KTF Quarries, LLC notifying them of the Missouri Clean Water Law and Federal Water Pollution Control Act permitting requirements, particularly those which would be applicable to a limestone quarry in an Outstanding National Resource Waters watershed (ONRW), such as the Eleven Point River watershed,” continued Lehman.
KTF Quarries, LLC is based out of Dexter. The owner is Kristian “KT” Fleeman.
In a phone interview, Fleeman said, “It’s just a rock quarry like many others in the Ozarks. It’s nothing new and different.”
He further commented that anyone with concerns should “feel free” to attend the public meeting.
The 103-acre plot of land on Highway 17 is surrounded by seven neighbors holding land of varying sizes, but the proposed quarry owner is required by law to notify by certified letter not only these, but also, every landowner within half a mile of the borders of the property.
Howell County News spoke with several of the neighbors who received a letter, and they are all concerned with the potential presence of a quarry near their homes. Scott Roy provided an expansive list of his concerns, including potential effects to the Eleven Point River and a creek he shares with the property, dust from the mine affecting the health of nearby residents, a potential reduction in the agricultural production of grass, and the effects on local wells, traffic, land values, and sinkholes in the neighborhood.
Roy is not alone in these concerns. The same topics were echoed by everyone interviewed for this article.
Members of the Haynes family have lived in the immediate area for four generations. The area surrounding the mine is their home, and they are concerned the mining activity will be a nuisance.
“My family has lived on this hill for many, many years. I’m a fourth generation land owner here,” William Haynes told Howell County News, “Them living in Dexter MO, coming here, and wanting to make a quarry without knowing anything about the land is a scary thought...My dad owns the land directly across the road [and] was told when his well was drilled that his land was built right on a cave...We are worried about our water systems, our ecosystem, our hunting and our land [and] homes.”
“My grandpa lived here for 60 years and my mom and dad have lived here for 45 years,” William’s father, Mike Haynes, agreed, “We have well problems already. If it rains too much, our water is already muddy. The drainage alone will cause problems. There are underground caves, springs and streams that nobody can see. There is no telling the damage that could be done from the blasts.”
Both men say they want more information.
“I think having a gravel pit right there would be nice, but I think every other aspect of it’s just going to be a nuisance to the whole community,” Mike Haynes concluded.
Kevin Gleghorn’s property is upriver from the proposed quarry site, so his concerns start and end with traffic. He said the property is on a hill and at a blind curve on the road. He wants to know whether MODOT will be involved in planning.
“Is it a safe place to come off the highway?” Gleghorn asked.
A request for comment from MODOT was not returned by press time.
For most of the affected landowners, damage to well water and to the Eleven Point River was a concern.
“[My] biggest concern is my well water,” David Rudolph told Howell County News, “The quarry will be less than a mile from my well. Because of the lower elevations, they will dig below the depth of my well...Every time we get heavy rains, my water can turn brown. Nobody knows how the underground waterways run. It could cause many problems for us.”
The nearby Eleven Point River is among Rudolph’s concerns as well.
“A lot of water runs during heavy rain,” he continued, “It picks up everything and it all goes to the Eleven Point River. With what research I have done, waste from the quarry is not good for the river ecosystems.”
Larry Lehman with MO DNR told Howell County News the plan of the proposed quarry is designed to protect the watershed.
“While a small portion of the property does include the Eleven Point River, the mine plan boundary does not include the Eleven Point River. The initial bonded area is separated into two four-acre tracts, outlined in red in the map. Note that the white dashed line in the south central area of the map is the Eleven Point River.”
“There are also other permitting safeguards that the Missouri Department of Natural Resources has, such as a no-discharge water permit because the site is in the watershed of an Outstanding Resource Waters. Other safeguards include erosion and sediment control requirements even if there is a potential for damaging erosion or sediment from land affected by mining going on to adjacent lands.”
Public notice about the proposed quarry was published according to law for four consecutive weeks in the West Plains Daily Quill and ended on July 20. Members of the public who wish to submit comments to the director of the Land Reclamation Program must do so within 15 days of this final publication date.
At this point in the application process, there is no avenue for a public hearing, Director Lehman said. A public meeting has already been requested, but has not yet been scheduled.
This is a developing story. Watch future editions of Howell County News for updates.