Archive for Thursday, February 1, 2001

Restraining order issued in quarry case

February 1, 2001

Two sides disagree on the significance of Hunt Midwest Mining Inc.'s agreement not to expand its mining operation until a judge rules on a lawsuit brought by neighbors of Sunflower Quarry.

The agreement came after Sunflower Neighborhood Group attorney Bill Nelson succeeded in getting a temporary restraining order requiring that Hunt Midwest operate the quarry south of 95th Street under the terms of the Johnson County conditional use permit. That permit regulated the quarry the past 10 years.

In December, the DeSoto City Council approved an annexation agreement that brought the quarry into the city and regulated its operation. The Sunflower Neighborhood Group then sued, saying annexation should have been referred to the DeSoto Planning Commission and the quarry's operation regulated through a special use permit.

Johnson County District Judge Thomas Foster vacated the restraining order in exchange for Hunt Midwest's pledge not to mine beyond the set-back limits established by the county.

DeSoto City Attorney Patrick Reavey said the restraining order and agreement it led to were meaningless.

"It's no big deal," he said. "All Hunt Midwest agreed to do is not quarry beyond the county's set-back lines. If he (Nelson) had called Hunt Midwest, he would have learned Hunt Midwest has no plans to expand its quarry operation beyond those borders for three or four years.

"Once the judge learned that, he said, 'What's all the excitement?'"

Reavey said Nelson was successful in getting the restraining order because neither the city nor Hunt Midwest was notified it was being filed. Nelson also failed to include the findings of fact and conclusions of law he prepared that explained why the city council chose to use an annexation agreement, Reavey said.

Nelson, however, maintained Hunt Midwest's concession was significant.

"We got what we wanted," he said. "We didn't want them to make any changes or expand quarry use."

Sunflower Neighborhood Group member Mark Crumbaker said the agreement was a positive development toward the group's goal. Real victory will come if the judge decides the annexation should have been referred to the planning commission and voids the annexation agreement, he said.

Judge Foster will decide the case as a matter of law after a volley of responses from both sides. The judge has also indicated he would like to hear oral arguments in the case. Nelson and Reavey agreed the judge probably wouldn't make his decision until June.

Reavey said he remains confident Foster will agree the city and Hunt Midwest acted within Kansas statutes in bringing the quarry into the city through an annexation agreement.

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