Greenwood leaders approve permit for controversial mine expansion

News

GREENWOOD, Mo. — Greenwood’s Board of Alderman approved a controversial expansion of mining operations Tuesday night.

Greenwood’s own Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously opposed a special use permit for Martin Marrietta Mining Company earlier this year.

The new permit approved Tuesday by a 3-1 vote included changes like reduced hours the mine can operate, but it’s still not to opponents liking.

Neighbors in Pleasant Hill, Lake Winnebago and people who have already lived with trucks going to and from the Martin Marietta mine down 2nd Avenue in Greenwood for decades turned out in droves earlier this year to convince planning commissioners to recommend against a special use permit for expanded operations.

“I do not believe that the City of Greenwood is being good neighbors,” Alderman Jesse Hill said. “I’ve lived in this town my whole life. I’m friends with people in Lake Winnebago and Pleasant Hill. And I’m personally ashamed. I’ve had to apologize personally because of the things that my town is currently doing.”

As the new permit headed toward a vote, a former Greenwood mayor had strong words for what was behind the annexation and expansion.

“I believe we are here today because of a corrupt act. That corrupt act was our mayor taking money from a quarry attorney,” Marvin Megee told commissioners last week as they considered an ordinance allowing permits to be issued to mines for less than 30 years.

FOX4 looked into the matter and found a $500 campaign contribution to the Committee to Elect Levi Weaver on March 16, 2017, from an attorney involved in appeals on behalf of the mine and its interests in a lawsuit filed by Greenwood back in 2009 and, according to an August 4, 2020 Kansas filing in another matter, still represents Martin Marrietta.

And a joint findings of fact between Mayor Levi Weaver and the Missouri Ethics Commission stipulated to eight counts, including “failure to timely and accurately report contributions received” including a $500 contribution on that same date March 16, 2017.

As a result Weaver was fined more than $9,000. The consent order allowed Weaver to pay just $1,629 of the $9,587 fee as long as he didn’t commit any further campaign violations for two years.

“You have to wonder if campaign funds were misappropriated in a wrong account, and moving forward we have a mine going in our backyard, whose back pocket and where does his alliance lie,” Lizanne Smothers said.

Facing the overwhelming opposition to the mine initially, the mayor convened an ad hoc committee to study the issue. Committee members have reported it was “disingenuous,” and the agenda was run by the mayor and attorneys for the mine. 

“I think he wanted us to believe it was done in good faith. I think it was a bunch of smoke and mirrors,” Smothers said.

Weaver didn’t seem too interested in discussion of the new permit tonight or allowing aldermen to discuss implications with the city attorney. Alderman Hill objected to only having a few days to review the permit and said it will put area children at continued risk to truck traffic.

The 3-1 vote allows new blasting and expanded operations for 15 years with options for three 5-year renewals.

“This has been going on for over 30 years,” Weaver said. “Greenwood has been directly impacted, and this is finally an opportunity for us to be monetarily compensated for the impacts that it’s caused. We have improved relationships and we feel this is in the best interest of the city.”

As for allegations it also might be his own interest, the mayor said he recalled the contribution being $250.

“I only found out that the individual was an attorney who worked for the quarry years prior, so it had no impact on any decisions that were made tonight,” Weaver said.

Popular

Latest

More News