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Zoners urge expansion of local quarry

Clay Center's zoning board recommended this week that the village rezone 94 acres to allow expansion of White Rock Quarry.

The quarry wants the village to change the zoning from residential to manufacturing so it can eventually enlarge its operations.

The five-member zoning board advised that restrictions be put on the rezoning to relieve residents' concerns.

Board members said the quarry should not be allowed to sell the rezoned land.

“They could only use the property for quarrying,” village council president Merle Fondessy said.

“It's not wide open to put a chemical plant or a dump there.”

The board also recommended that the village forbid the quarry from building another entrance because it might increase truck traffic in the area.

Board members said the quarry should preserve a strip of green space where the rezoned land touches residential property and relocate the nearby creek so it is separated from private homes by a 16-foot embankment.

“In case the creek overflows, the residents wouldn't be flooded,” Mr. Fondessy said. “It's a safeguard.”

Village council must vote on the rezoning before it goes into effect. Mr. Fondessy said the council will talk about the issue in March. Council members will decide at their Monday meeting what date they will discuss the rezoning.

About 75 people attended the zoning board meeting Jan. 6. Some residents who live near the quarry are concerned that the quarry will start blasting close to their homes, causing damage and excessive noise. They also worry that more water use by the quarry could cause their wells and ponds to dry up.

White Rock Quarry bought the 94 acres of farm land last fall and requested that it be annexed from Allen Township to Clay Center. Ottawa County commissioners approved the annexation in February. Mr. Fondessy said the quarry does not plan to expand onto the annexed land for at least 15 years.

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