A proposed gravel pit near Jordan has created a dust storm over concerns that the city's water, air and roads could be damaged by the operation.
Officials in Sand Creek Township also oppose it because of possible groundwater contamination they believe could result from the digging.
The proposed pit would be on about 80 acres in Sand Creek in the 17000 block of Valley View Drive, just north of Jordan near Hwy. 169. After the mining is done, the pit would be turned into a pond.
"There's a ton of issues out there," said Cy Wolf, chairman of the Sand Creek Township board. "But that's the biggest fear we have out there, Sand Creek flooding over." If the polluted river were to flood, it could flow into the pond and contaminate it. From there, some fear, it could seep into the groundwater.
Wolf was among several elected officials who attended a special City Council meeting in Jordan last week to deal specifically with the gravel pit project, known as Jordan Aggregates.
Marty Schmitz, the zoning administrator for Scott County, said comments on the project will be taken until Feb. 9 and the County Board could vote on the matter in March.
"I know the city has some concerns, but we haven't received their comments," Schmitz said.
Jordan and Sand Creek officials want the county to order more intensive environmental studies of the project to address the growing number of concerns raised by the city, township and residents.
"The mining operation will be below the level of the water table," argued Jordan City Council Member Thom Boncher. "The hole will expose the underlying aquifer. Sand Creek is one of the more polluted waterways in the state. When it overflows its banks, which it does just about every year, the polluted water will have a clear path to the groundwater."
'A forever project'
Jordan Mayor Pete Ewals said the city is concerned that eventually this polluted water will make its way from the pit to city and private wells and then to the county water supply.
"This mine is not a 25-year project," Ewals said at the City Council meeting called to address the issue. "This is a forever project. The hole [will be there] and water is going to keep going in there. It will continue to flood after the mine closes, and it will contribute to the water woes of Jordan."
Also, there is concern that the project will mean as many as 110 truck trips through town daily.
The main route these trucks would follow is on Valley View Drive, which would then take them through Jordan streets.
That has raised another controversy: Who will pay for the expected damage to the roadways? They are not designed to handle such heavy loads, according to city officials.
Steve Hentges, of S.M. Hentges and Sons, the contractor proposing the project, has tried to address these concerns.
He has stated in his project proposal that if the groundwater became contaminated, then the residents in the area could connect to the city water supply in Jordan.
Two problems, say Jordan city officials. The first is that the affected residents are outside the city jurisdiction. The second and most important is the question of who will pay the millions of dollars to connect them.
"Their solution would push the problem down the road," said Jordan Council Member Jeremy Goebel. "Are they going to spend the millions of dollars to lay the pipe out there?"
Thus far, Hentges has made no commitment about how much money the company will spend to fix roads or address possible water issues, city officials said.
Hentges did not return phone calls seeking further comment last week.
Other issues, raised by the city's parks and recreation advisory committee, are that traffic, dust and smells from the gravel pit would affect the city's most-used park, located next to the proposed pit.
The smells would be especially bad if an asphalt and concrete plant are allowed at the site, as the company is proposing, Boncher and others said.
"The smell from the asphalt plant is going to be unbearable," Carl Day, who lives on Valley View Drive, told the City Council. "The dust coming from the broken concrete is going to be horrendous to us. I frankly ask that you reject this whole mess. You are getting nothing in return."
Heron Marquez • 952-707-9994