BENTONVILLE -- A 6,000-foot dirt portion of North Old Wire Road will need to be modernized if more heavy truck traffic plans to roll down it, a Benton County official said.
That dirt section is near 1425 N. Old Wire Road just northeast of Lowell where red dirt is hauled out of the Cross Hollows mine. A proposal before the county Planning Board would allow limestone to be quarried in the area.
Benton County’s Planning Board will meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Circuit Judge Robin Green’s courtroom in the courthouse. County meetings are being held in Green’s courtroom because the elevator in the County Administration Building is closed for repair. The courthouse is at 102 N.E. A St. in Bentonville. Residents who plan to attend the meeting must use the south entrance off East Central Avenue.
Source: Staff report
The red dirt site at 1425 N. Old Wire Road has a litigated history since its inception more than 12 years ago. In August 2006, Benton County’s Planning Board denied the red dirt mine proposal. A justice of the peace appeal panel upheld the denial. A complaint against the county was filed later in the year, requesting an appeal. A consent decree was put into place in 2008.
Source: Staff report
The quarry is back before the Planning Board for a third time Wednesday night. The board tabled the issue at its Nov. 7 and Dec. 5 meetings seeking more information from the applicant. Anchor Stone from Tulsa, Okla., would quarry the stone.
Josh Beam, chief engineer for the county, said the part of North Old Wire Road near the mine already presents a problem.
"We have to maintain that stretch of road twice as frequently as any other unpaved road in the county," he said. "Any more heavy truck traffic would impact the road."
Beam compared the section of North Old Wire Road to Luper Road, which is off Arkansas 264 and sees heavy truck traffic from a quarry in Washington County. The main difference between the two roads is Luper is paved, but not to a standard that withstands constant truck traffic, he said.
Any long-term improvements to North Old Wire Road would require paving the dirt stretch near the quarry to county specifications, Beam said.
County Judge Barry Moehring will decide on any improvements to North Old Wire Road, but the cost would fall to Anchor Stone, Moehring said.
He said any road work hinges on three points: first, the Planning Board's decision on the quarry Wednesday night; second, should the road be improved at all -- Moehring notes the road isn't on the county's road plan; and third, what specifications would the road need to be built to if improvements get the go-ahead?
A paved upgrade would have to meet county specifications including a 22-foot-wide road with 2-foot unpaved shoulders on both sides, Beam said. A drainage plan also would need to be approved. About 1,100 feet of the road is in the 100-year flood plain, Beam said. It could take months to get the project started, he said.
It's estimated 35 to 50 dump trucks a day would haul limestone from the quarry depending on the size and location of a particular project, said Tim Sorey with Sand Creek Engineering of Bentonville. Sand Creek represents Anchor Stone at the Planning Board meetings. Sorey didn't know how many dump trucks per day haul red dirt from the site. A loaded truck would weigh more than 20 tons.
Neighbors have fiercely opposed the proposed quarry. Residents overflowed Benton County Circuit Judge Robin Green's courtroom where the Dec. 5 meeting was held. Many wore T-shirts with the words "Please Vote No. Stop The Quarry." Others wore red buttons that said, "Don't Blast Our Past."
Many residents who live in the area have cited possible well water contamination, noise from blasting and increased heavy truck traffic on Old Wire Road either before the Planning Board or through emails and phone calls to the Planning Department or Moehring's office. The county has received more than 135 email about the quarry since Nov. 2, county officials said.
The Lowell City Council on Monday night voted to oppose the quarry even though the site is outside the city.
A rock crusher and blasting are part of the project, according to planning documents. Blasting would be done once a month and usually happens in the late morning or early afternoon, Sorey said.
Sherrie Moffitt of Lowell wrote to the Planning Department there, "would be a huge impact on noise and air quality due to the rock crushing and blasting that would be done."
Parts of the 135-acre mine property owned by David Covington are laid out in sections of 10 acres. Each 10-acre parcel represents a five-year operating period for limestone production, according to the county Planning Department's executive summary on the proposed project.
The limestone would be used for area road projects. The project has all the required Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality permits, the planning summary states. The quarry would operate from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the summer and from daylight to dusk in the winter, according to planning documents.
NW News on 12/16/2018
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