A proposed gravel mining operation near St. Clair will find out Tuesday if it gets a conditional use permit.
The Franklin County Planning and Zoning Commission is expected to vote on Meramec Aggregates’ CUP during April’s meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Franklin County Government Center. Meramec Aggregates requested a conditional use permit at the March meeting in order to mine raw materials from a piece of river-bottom property across the Meramec River to land it already owns. Once all the gravel has been dredged from the area, the site would have a 35-acre lake.
The commission’s review committee voted 3-0 in favor of denying the permit.
The approval of the permit would be conditional on Meramec Aggregates getting 404 and 401 permits from the Department of Natural Resources and the Army Corps of Engineers.
During the March meeting, Kenny Wilson of Meramec Aggregates initially told the commission both permits were secured. Later, after questions came up during public comments, Wilson said he was mistaken.
Wilson said he was under the impression that everything had been approved, but found out that the applications had only been filed and had yet to be approved. Still he seemed confident Meramec Aggregates would get the permits.
“They said that it looks great and to go for it,” Wilson said. “They’re not worried at all about the wildlife.”
The planned operation has its share of objectors. A large group of neighbors spoke out against the gravel mine at the March meeting.
The objections ranged from a lack of details in plans to fear of erosion. Some neighbors simply didn’t want the mine making noise for 40 years.
Another issue brought up was a lack of trust of Meramec Aggregates. A neighboring property dredged by the company is in poor shape.
Wilson admitted the old property was in less-than-great state. He said that property was purchased after another owner had already removed 75 percent of the gravel and Meramec Aggregates didn’t have a lot of choice on how to do things.
“We just followed the previous owner’s guidelines from the Department of Natural Resources,” he said. “That’s the reason it looks the way it does.”
Wilson said the final product at the new location would look much better.
“We want a lake,” he said. “We want banks around it and we want it to look like a lake and not a pit. That’s the reason we’re saving the dirt and stuff to put banks all the way around.”
Some residents were skeptical about the lake. The lake was derided as a potential bog for mosquitoes and not an actual lake.
After the meeting, the complaints still rolled in. The packet for commissioners has a half dozen letters against the proposal.
Also included in the packet is a petition with close to 100 signatures urging the commission to reject the permit request.