Archive for Thursday, March 3, 2005

Failed leadership behind delays in quarry permit

March 3, 2005

In July 2003, Hunt Midwest Mining Inc. announced its desire to de-annex from the city of De Soto. Two months later, a Johnson County District Court judge ordered the de-annexation.
For those mathematically challenged, the quarry officially came under the county's jurisdiction 17 months ago, at which time the county started working on a conditional use permit to regulate the quarry application.
Last Thursday, the Johnson County commissioners voted unanimously to send the permit back to the Northwest Consolidated Zoning Board, meaning it could be four more months before commissioners make an up-or-down decision on the permit.
Quarry permits are complicated affairs, but they're not that complicated. Just for the sake of comparison, the founding fathers wrote the U.S. Constitution in four months, and the Manhattan Project needed 36 months to produce the world's first atomic bomb.
The fault for the delay is clearly one of leadership. Commissioners started the process with a failure to communicate what they wanted from a permit. They then found themselves painted in a corner when the zoning board recommended denial.
Only then did commissioners decide a workable remediation plan had to be developed. That led to the hiring of an outside expert who so thoroughly shredded the remediation planning to that date that the process had to start from scratch.
Clearly, if remediation was the primary concern -- and the expert's testimony indicates it should have been very important -- that is where the process should have started in the fall of 2003.
But last week, commissioners made known other areas of interest for the zoning board's review, seeming to indicate a final closing date, or at least conditions necessitating such a date, should be developed.
Had these expectations been voiced 17 months ago, it is unlikely the commission would have received that awkward recommendation for denial from the zoning board. It would not have provided as many grounds for lawsuits, which are likely to keep the issue active no matter what its decision in four months.

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