The proposed expansion of a rock quarry northwest of Augusta has run into opposition from nearby residents who are worried about blasting near their homes, truck traffic and potential negative impact their property values.
The St. Charles County Council is being asked to approve a conditional use permit to allow Schlermeier Quarry to expand into an 80-acre wooded tract to the south of the existing quarry. The quarry is located about five miles northwest of Augusta on Femme Osage Creek Road.
The county’s planning and zoning commission voted 5-3 at its Sept. 21 meeting to recommend approval of the conditional use permit to the council, which makes the final decision. Although the council gave a first reading to the request at its Oct. 11 meeting, it took no final action. Instead, councilmembers heard from both the applicant for the permit and nearby residents.
Philip Myers, with Myco Holdings LLC, the applicant for the permit, told the council that the company is seeking the expansion to keep the quarry open. The existing quarry, which has been used since the 1950s, only has about one to 1.5 years of rock left.
Myers said he and his wife would like to purchase the quarry and property from its present owner, Kathleen Kling.
“We’re not looking to expand and get to be big and huge,” Myers said. He added that the quarry has five employees who would lose their jobs if the quarry cannot be expanded.
On average, about 30 trucks a day use the quarry – one every 15 minutes, Myers said. Along with county regulations, he said he has to follow a host of federal and state guidelines that include site inspections, dust control, limits, water quality and emissions monitoring, proper equipment maintenance. The quarry blasts rock once every five to six weeks, he said.
The council also heard from several residents who live nearby who are worried about what the conditional use permit may mean to them. Several said they moved to the largely rural part of the county because they were attracted by its natural beauty and quiet.
Joseph Belsher, said he worries about the loss of a buffer zone between the quarry and his home on Hwy. T if the expansion is allowed. He said he can feel the ground shake during blasting.
Belsher said the commission failed to consider the loss of buffer zones, blasting and negative impacts on nearby roads from truck traffic, along with the impact on property values.
Councilmember Joe Brazil [District 2] asked Belsher if compromises were possible that could strike a balance between the property owner’s right to use his property and keep his business open and concerns of residents. The quarry has been in the area for many years, Brazil said. He added that requirements could be written into the conditional use permit to establish requirements and conditions that have to be met.
Belsher said some regulations may be helpful, but added “I just see it ruining our dream of retirement.”
Jim Kaiman, another nearby property owner, said he was concerned because the commission did not address issues such as the loss of property values in their decision. However, Kling, who lives near the quarry, told the council that the quarry operations have not disturbed her. Her property values have increased over the years, she said.