9-3 one abstention.
Disregard for human beings and other living things prevails.
One has to believe that people in Washington County will quit voting for the majority of the people on the Quorum Court. Only Justices of the Peace Steve Zega, Candy Clark and Mary Ann Spears voted against the quarry. Justice of the Peace Ann Harbison abstained because of a potential conflict of interest.
Many who voted for the conditional-use permit to allow a red-dirt pit to become a limestone quarry acknowledged that they wouldn't want it next to their property but thought the need for more local sources of limestone for building roads justified making an exception for county rules to allow it next to other residents' property. At least some expressed mixed emotions on the subject.
This votes violates everything that is logical. This will violate stormwater regulations, air-quality regulations, health regulations, noise regulations, and the basic ethical position of DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO TO YOU.
Some normally clear-thinking members of the Quorum Court rolled over for this environmentally insentive madness and actually spouted totally out-of-character rationalizations for their "yes" vote.
I guess I am spoiled from living in the city. City residents expect fire, ambulance and police service in three minutes. Those JPs living out in the country must figure someone can burn them out way before help can arrive. They don't fear the people who speak out against such conditional uses. But they seem to fear someone.
Thanks to the naysayers in this instance. Their reelection is assured.
I can imagine breakfast meetings in farm houses all over the county will focus on drafting a candidate for JP who will care about the people in their district. They know how one neighborhood in the county was treated and they fear their JP will support the bad guys against them when the time comes.
The limestone quarry was a conditional-use permit, not a development by right. Quashing it was a slam dunk. No court would have upheld a challenge of a vote to follow the rules and do the right thing.
Can you spell KARST geology?
The Morning News
The Morning News reports on quorum court debacle
Local News for Northwest Arkansas
Washington County Allows Quarry
By Christopher Spencer
THE MORNING NEWS
FAYETTEVILLE -- The Big Red Dirt Farm can become a quarry.
Washington County's Quorum Court overturned the planning board's September decision to not allow a red dirt pit on Hamstring Road near west Fayetteville to become a quarry. The Friday vote was 9-3.
Justices of the Peace Steve Zega, Candy Clark and Mary Ann Spears voted against the quarry. Justice of the Peace Ann Harbison abstained because of a potential conflict of interest.
Opponents called it a blasted moonscape and a strip mine that would explode with dynamite, damage well water and blow dangerous dust into the air that will line the lungs of neighbors. Big Red Dirt Farm has operated since 2004.
Other quarries are nearby. County planners considered that when they recommended the quarry be allowed. The quarry is a compatible use with the area as long as certain conditions are met, such as a 100-foot buffer area and fencing, said planning director Juliet Richey.
(Actually, Richey recommended 150 feet but that was amended out of the ordinance.)
Blasting must also be limited to 24 times a year, according to the conditional use permit.
Lanny Samples spoke on behalf of the West Fayetteville Citizens for Environmental Quality, a group opposing the quarry. He said that, just because other quarries are in the area, doesn't mean another one should be allowed.
"If you have one sex offender in a neighborhood, are you going to put all the sex offenders in that neighborhood," Samples said.
Several opponents said the red dirt in the pit is almost exhausted.
Dirt Farm owners said there is enough limestone in the quarry to last between 50 and 75 years. There is also enough red dirt to last for several more years, they said.
Chuck Nestrud is an attorney for the owners. Nestrud said the operation was inspected by regulatory agencies 18 times and was never found in violation.
Billy Sweetser is a co-owner of the Big Red Dirt Farm. He said the owners have always tried to be good neighbors.
"Please approve us without anymore strings attached," Sweetser said.
Several justices of the peace said allowing the quarry boils down to providing building material close to where it is needed.
"There's not a lot of places in Washington County to put these things," Justice of the Peace Butch Pond said.
Big Red Dirt Farm's owners filed a lawsuit in Circuit Judge Mark Lindsay's court. A group of property owners who opposed the
quarry joined the lawsuit. Lindsay was set to hear the case last month, but decided the Quorum Court should hear the appeal.
County Attorney George Butler said the decision will likely return to Lindsay's court because the neighbors might continue their suit.