Quarry concerns continue in Fruitland

FRUITLAND, MO (KFVS) - With equipment in place, it may already be too late to stop two quarry operations coming to Fruitland.

Heartland Materials and Strack Excavating now have permits to start operations near Saxony Lutheran High School.

Now, both quarries want to be annexed into Jackson.

"What's going to happen when they start blasting?" asked Ben Bowers.

Bowers lives right next to the land that belongs to Strack.  He's not happy about the quarry coming in.

"Nobody here likes it," said Bowers.

After a year of hearings and wrangling, the process just got more complicated. This time it's about control.

Heartland Materials has asked to be incorporated into Jackson through annexation. There's 242 acres involved.

Mayor Barbara Lohr says they are considering the request.

"I think they would rather be in an entity where they know what the rules are," said Lohr.

Yet people in Fruitland want to slow down the process. Some say since it appears they can't stop the quarry, they at least want the opportunity to regulate it.

They sent a letter out to Jackson rResidents to try and convince them a quarry wouldn't be good for their city. They encourage residents of Jackson to sign a petition. If they get 500 signatures, petitioners say that would be enough to make Heartland Material's request 'involuntary' and therefore more complicated.

The topic comes up at a meeting on Nov. 7.

"At that point we'll listen to everyone's concerns," said Lohr. "No vote will be taken then. We'll probably vote at the next meeting."

But that's just the beginning of this story.

Here's another potential twist. Some in Fruitland want their unincorporated community to become a village.

"That's a separate issue," said Mayor Lohr.

Yet some residents feel it isn't necessarily unrelated. If Fruitland is a village then businesses, like quarries would have to follow Fruitland rules. But because of a technicality in state laws, Fruitland actually has to ask Jackson to annex it in and have Jackson turn down the request.

"They asked us verbally to do so," said Lohr.

After that, Fruitland can move forward with plans to become a village. However, Lohr says Jackson has not made a decision on the request.

"Because that is a natural growth progression for us we said we have to study it first," said Lohr.

That discussion does not come before the council until December. That's a worry for some residents because according to the City of Jackson, if Heartland Materials request is granted first, then they can bring heavy industry into Jackson without a problem.

But should Jackson decide to make Fruitland part of their community first, that creates problems for quarries because within city limits that would make the quarry too close to residential areas.

"It's a big issue and a complicated one," said Lohr. "That's why we're working hard to study it."

We've learned Strack Excavating has a request for annexation also. Lohr says four entities have requested annexation in all.

Meanwhile, in Jackson many people say they are trying to become more aware of the issue, should they be asked to vote on whether or not to include Fruitland. However, some who work in Jackson say it seems like a no brainer to take hold of an opportunity to expand and bring economic growth.

"Economically it just seems like the thing to do," said Sean Lightfoot. "People want jobs and industry for a community to thrive."

Lohr says it's much easier to push Heartland's request for annexation through quickly because its request is voluntary. Fruitland's takes longer because the city would have to make sure they have the resources to provide for that community.

Residents and the school still have a number of appeals in progress regarding the quarries.

One last note, Lohr says in order for Strack to go ahead with the company's request for their land to be annexed, approval would first have to be granted to Heartland Materials according to guidelines.

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