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FAYETTEVILLE -- Plans for a red dirt mine on 211 acres west of Fayetteville off Arkansas 16 were tabled Thursday by county planners, who asked the developers to try and remedy some of the concerns expressed by neighbors and by the county's planning staff.

"This isn't going to pass tonight, based on the grade issue alone," Kenley Haley, a member of the Planning Board and Zoning Board of Adjustments, said of the proposal, referring to the slope of the haul road on the site. Haley made a motion to table the plans, which was adopted by the board with one member recusing.

Conditional use permit

Washington County planners are considering a red dirt mining operation in an area west of Fayetteville off Arkansas 16 zoned for agriculture and single-family residential use. Discussion of the plans was tabled by the Planning Board to give the developer time to address concerns raised by neighbors about safety, noise, dust, traffic, water quality, property values and other issues. The hearing will be rescheduled and time of the next hearing sent out by planning staff.

Source: Staff report

The county was considering plans for the Heritage Farms dirt pit permit. Nathan Crouch, county planning director, said the site has been logged but, to the best of his knowledge, no dirt has been removed. Crouch said dirt has been moved on the site in preparation for the mining activity.

According to information from the county, Heritage Farms NWA plans four phases of dirt mining, which would cover 19.1 acres of the site, not including the haul road and the area around the truck scales. According to information from the county, the mine would be in operation from 7:30 a.m.to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and as many as 75 trucks a day would use the site during the spring and summer months. Crouch said the slope of the haul road is shown by the project engineer at 24.9 percent. Crouch said the county's fire code only allows for a slope of 10 percent, giving rise to Haley's concerns about the road.

The Planning Board chose not to hear public comments at Thursday's meeting. More than 50 people filled the meeting room, many of whom were neighbors opposed the development. Crouch said 95 letters were mailed to residents within a half-mile of the property. He said more than 50 were returned, all opposing the plan.

Mac Childs, one neighbor, stood up after the project was tabled to tell the board his yard has been filled with "hot ash and sawdust" from the development.

"It doesn't seem to be a concern to anyone," Childs said.

Childs said he welcomed the postponement, saying it will give him and other neighbors time to organize and develop their presentation for the county.

Teri Spivey, another neighbor, said after the meeting she would have preferred the board hear the complaints and vote on the project.

"My daughter and I both have asthma," Spivey said, displaying photos she said show her yard filled with smoke.

Spivey said she also has recordings of the noise from the work on the site already being done. She said the berms alongside the work site don't diminish the noise.

"I guess it's good that it was tabled but a little frustrating," Spivey said. "I feel like we were dismissed. I guess I'll move forward and be more prepared next time."

Crouch said the project could return to the board at its Jan. 10 meeting. If there are design changes made to address the neighbors' complaints and other issues such as the road the project would have to go back to the technical review process. Crouch said that might delay the project but he couldn't say for sure. He said notices will be sent to all residents within a half-mile of the project to inform them when it is scheduled to be heard again.

NW News on 12/07/2018

Print Headline: County planners delay hearing on dirt mine

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