Archive for Thursday, December 18, 2003

Sunflower Quarry hit with multiple citations

December 18, 2003

In the first of what may become a series of appearances, Hunt Midwest Mining Inc. has a court date Friday in Johnson County Codes Court.

Johnson County Zoning Administrator Paul Greeley said Hunt Midwest was ticketed twice for operating Sunflower Quarry, south of 95th Street, without a required conditional use permit. The tickets dated from Dec. 5 and Friday. Each ticket noted five different citations.

"When we do a zoning citation it is by the day," Greeley said. "Each day is considered a separate violation."

The county would continue its daily monitoring of the quarry, Greeley said. Should the quarry remain active this week, he said the plan was to ticket it again Friday.

That same day Hunt Midwest's first two tickets would be on the docket of County Codes Court Judge Barry Duwe. Hunt Midwest would have the opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty at that time, said Bob Ford of the Johnson County Legal Department.

Should Hunt Midwest plead not guilty, Duwe would consider the case at the codes court's Jan. 23 session.

Fines for the first citation would range from $100 to $500 with the standard fine being $250, Ford said. Fines increase with a second violation with the standard fine jumping $500, he said.

Assuming Hunt Midwest was found guilty, Duwe could exercise discretion on the amount of the fine and the number of citations that would apply, Ford said. The judge could fine the company for every day it has operated without a permit or lump each week's citation into one fine.

A situation of multiple citations was unprecedented, Ford said.

"I don't know how he (Duwe) is going to handle it," he said. "Obviously the judge has a great amount of discretion on the penalty."

The citations are the latest development in the legal wrangling surrounding the quarry that dates to fall of 2000, when Hunt Midwest and city officials began discussing an annexation agreement. After the Kansas Supreme Court threw out much of that agreement, a Johnson County District Court ruled the remainder of the annexation invalid.

Meanwhile, Hunt Midwest filed with the county to renew the conditional-use permit it allowed to lapse with its annexation.

The city of De Soto still has a voice in that process because of a 2000 overlay agreement with the county that established a joint zoning district in the southern area of De Soto and the unincorporated area to the south.

Earlier this month, city officials met with county planning staffers working on Hunt Midwest's permit application. Mayor Dave Anderson said the meeting was scheduled because of the short turnaround time the joint agreement allowed the city to respond to a draft permit.

"They're working with us, and that's good," he said.

Anderson said he informed the county of the City Council's desire that the county permit reflect a number of operating regulations included in a city special use permit regulating quarries that was adopted earlier this year. The city required quarries renew the permit every five years and had more stringent reporting requirements.

The county's consideration of the Sunflower quarry permit comes as the term of the overlay district is expiring. Last month, the City Council sent a letter to County Commissioners stating the city would withdraw from the joint agreement unless it included the Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant.

Anderson backed off that demand after a meeting last month with County Legal Councilor Don Jarrett and County Commission Chairwoman Annabeth Surbaugh.

It was Jarrett's contention the overlay district not be expanded because the possible formation of a redevelopment district at Sunflower would supercede all outside zoning and planning jurisdictions, Anderson said.

Subsequent to that meeting, City Attorney Patrick Reavey reviewed the legislation and came to a different conclusion. At its Dec. 4 meeting, he told the City Council that in his opinion there was nothing in the bill that would prevent a role for the overlay district at Sunflower.

At that meeting Tim Maniez and Emil Urbanek restated their distaste for the overlay district and its seeming suggestion that De Soto couldn't adequately provide zoning and planning. Anderson appealed for moderation because of the usefulness of the overlay district at Sunflower Quarry and in the interest of better relations with the county. But it was agreed, Reavey would inform Jarrett of the city's intention to withdraw from the agreement in the absence of a voice in Sunflower planning

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