Kim Smith, Edgerton, didn’t know an asphalt plant might be constructed near Edgerton until after members of the Southwest Johnson County Consolidated Zoning Board recommended approving the project.
“I didn’t find out about it until after they had the meeting,” Smith said. “I had no idea what was going on.”
As is legally required, Johnson County posted notice of the meeting in its newspaper of record, The Olathe News.
“It’s just really sneaky and underhanded the way they did it. The Olathe newspaper? We live in Edgerton,” Smith said. “If they had done it in The Gardner News during the graduation issue, we may have known.”
The county also posted signage around the rock quarry about the possibility of an asphalt plant and the zoning board meeting. Smith said the signs were small. Smith saw the signs while driving past, but said she wasn’t going to stop and get out of her car to read them.
“It looked like a building permit,” she said. “That’s what I assumed it was. Nobody knew.”
The zoning board recommended that members of the Johnson County Board of Commissioners approve a five-year conditional use permit to operate an asphalt and concrete plant at 20125 Sunflower Road in Edgerton. The property is just beyond Edgerton city limits, very near to the home of Smith’s parents.
Smith said at the very least, she would like the county to require an environmental impact of the asphalt plant.
Smith said her father has Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and emphysema.
“I can only imagine what this plant is going to do to him,” Smith said.
Smith challenges people to drive through Edgerton at about 3:30 p.m. each day. Typically, she said the rock quarry is blasting at that time.
“It looks like Edgerton is covered in a dome of dust,” Smith said. “It can’t be good for anyone. I don’t know what kind of effect tar and asphalt dust can have on a person, but it can’t be good for you.”
Shelly George, Edgerton, also dislikes the quarry, which has been in operation off-and-on for dozens of years under different management.
“When they blast, it rattles windows. It feels like a pick-up truck coming through my house,” she said. “It’s not a joke. It really is that substantial.”
Though little can be done to stop the quarry, George said she’s will fight to stop the asphalt plant, which she says, may decrease the value of area homes by up to 50 percent in addition to creating air pollution.
“I really hope that the county will see that the citizens of Edgerton aren’t going to be the county’s doormat,” George said. “We’re not going to just lay down and let them do what they want without fair consideration.”
George said she is trying to gather enough signatures for a formal protest petition. She only has 14 days from the original date of the Southwest Johnson County Consolidated Zoning Board meeting in order to get her petition together and turned in. She estimates she’ll need 360 signatures by June 10. She hopes to gather more than 600 signatures by going door-to-door.
“It’s a pretty small town, so hopefully it won’t take that long,” George said.
At a minimum, George said she would like to see the location of the asphalt plant, which will be on the quarry property, moved from the west side of the 160-acre quarry property. Currently, the asphalt plant is set to be constructed near Sunflower Road, but George said there are fewer residents on the east side, which borders Mildale Farm.
While Smith said she’s likely to sign a protest petition, she isn’t confident that it will do any good.
Smith said the citizens of Edgerton have petitioned the county before to no avail.
“You can’t fight the county… I can sit here and run my mouth, but they’re just going to look at me as what I am, which is a middle-aged mother with a big mouth. It’s just not fair,” she said. “It’s not fair to us. We should have the right to know what’s going on in our community.”
The county commission will consider granting a five-year, conditional use permit for a concrete and asphalt plant at the Edgerton quarry on July 3. The meeting will start at 9:30 a.m. in the county administration building in Olathe.