Meramec Aggregates won’t be dredging a 35-acre lake near St. Clair.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the Franklin County Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously agreed to deny the company’s conditional use permit.
“I would have some serious reservations at this point in time approving the conditional use permit without certain information,” Commissioner Jay Schultehenrich said.
In March, Meramec Aggregates presented its request for a conditional use permit to mine raw materials from a piece of river-bottom property near St. Clair 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.
Many neighbors expressed concern over the application. Citing fears of erosion, flooding and the quality of the lake, a string of residents opposed the permit.
The neighbors’ concerns over the lack of information in the permit, however, turned out be the deciding factor in rejecting the permit.
Schultehenrich, a review committee member, said there were simply too many unanswered questions.
“The review committee, when looking at this file, thought there was not enough information to warrant the conditional use permit,” Schultehenrich said. “Certain questions that were raised were not addressed, at least to the satisfaction of myself.”
Based on the information, or lack of information, the review voted 3-0 in favor of denying the permit. The Missourian incorrectly stated in the April 12-13 issue the committee was in favor of the permit.
Schultehenrich raised several concerns that he and the review committee had. He said he was confused the permit application to the county said a 35-acre lake, but the Department of Natural Resources application said a 60-acre site.
Schultehenrich also was concerned about the proximity to the Meramec River and the potential impact of altering the flow of the river and doing harm to neighboring properties.
Most of Schultehenrich’s concerns were about a lack of information.
“We were not informed as to how deep this dredging would take place, unless I missed that — and I hope I haven’t because I read all the material as best I could.”
Because of all the unanswered questions, Schultehenrich said he couldn’t support the permit request.
Other commissioners had other issues as well.
“I’d have to agree with Jay,” Commission Chairman Bill Evans said. “I don’t know that there was necessarily negative information, there just wasn’t sufficient information for us to make a decision.”
In order to get the permit, Meramec Aggregates needed permits from both the Department of Natural Resources and the Army Corps of Engineers. During the March meeting Meramec Aggregates’ Kenny Wilson initially told the commission he had taken care of both permits.
When questioned by members of the opposition, Wilson said he had misspoke. He said he was under the impression the permits were secured, but they were still awaiting approval.
“I felt slightly uncomfortable when they stated they had received the permits and the opponents had information that they had, in fact, not,” Evans said Tuesday night.
Commissioner Russell McCreary said Meramec Aggregates provided information right before the meeting and he didn’t have time to review all the material.
McCreary said he was still reading the file when Wilson was speaking and he immediately noticed some inconsistencies.
“As the gentleman was saying everything is good with the DNR and the Corps of Engineers, I read an e-mail to (Planning Director Scottie Eagan) from the corps saying, no they don’t have approval,” McCreary said.
With all the questions and concerns, Commissioner Tim Reinhold asked if Meramec Aggregates could speak to the commission and address some concerns. Evans said, with the file closed, the commission couldn’t receive any new information.
“Once the file is closed, we have to make a decision based on the testimony, both oral and written, that we have,” Evans said.
Based on the information at hand, the nine commissioners at Tuesday’s meeting voted to deny the permit.