After months of consideration, and a lengthy meeting with the public, the members of the Washington County Quorum Court voted in favor of an ordinance that would allow Northwest Arkansas Quarries to continue using addition land near Springdale, Ark. under a Conditional Use Permit.
Since being granted permission to use an original 120 acres of land for the large scale development, the quarry was expanded into an addition 118.5 acres for stockpiling, and another 13.5 acres for more mining. The expansion took place without the permission of the Quorum court, and had flown under the radar of its members until quarry owners asked for the courts approval years later.
The quarry, located along Parson’s Road in Springdale, has been a thorn in the sides of the locals since production began. Local residents say the quarry is an eye-sore and the dust that it creates has become a health hazard.
“It hasn’t improved any,” local resident, Ronald Rich, said of the dust. “I want the dust gone… that’s all it’s ever been about. They don’t give a darn and they’re proving it to us every day, I don’t understand this. This is crazy to be here in this situation.”
Declining to give Northwest Arkansas Quarries a conditional use permit, to some members of the community, was a way to punish the company for what they had considered to be wrong doing.
Home-owning, tax-paying resident, Brett Ralstan believed declining the quarry’s permit was a matter of principle.
“I don’t believe anyone has any angst against the business, itself,” Ralstan told the court. “No one’s trying to put it out of business… They produce $400,000 in tax revenue for our county and the state, and that’s significant… What we are concerned here with is principle.”
Ralstan, like Rich and other local residents, believe the quarry and its owners to disregard the concerns of those who are directly affected by the problems it creates.
Despite the pleas of a few members of the public to decline the request of a permit, it passed unanimously. But it was not without thorough consideration on the part of the justices.
“This is a very difficult decision,” said Justice of the Peace, Eva Madison. “I’m going to vote to support the conditional use permit but it is not because I’m not with you, I just don’t know a way to accomplish what it is your asking us to do… I hope that this is the beginning of something that we’ll see as you all having a good relationship with your business owner neighbors.”
By allowing for the conditional use of the land that Northwest Arkansas Quarries had already expanded into, the court will now be allowed to monitor the activities of the company’s development in areas that affect the locals.
“If we pass it, we can put conditions on them,” said JP Barbara Fitzpatrick, “If we don’t pass it, we can’t.”
With the permission of the court to continue using the additional 118.5 acres of land for stockpiling, the amount of blasting and crushing of the rock will be reduced to only half of the year. The owners of the quarry also agreed to take measures to shield the dust by raising the burms and planting trees along the road.