Greenwood OKs mining ordinance change that some worry could lead to years of expanded operations

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GREENWOOD, Mo. — Homeowners once again blasted Greenwood’s handling of a proposed expansion of mining operations Tuesday.

Hundreds thought they may have defeated a special use permit for the mine earlier this year. But Tuesday night the Planning and Zoning Commission, which unanimously recommended against a special use permit, approved rewriting its ordinance governing special use permits for mining operations.

Residents in multiple surrounding communities are now worried what those changes could mean for them. Greenwood annexed land beside Pleasant Hill and Lake Winnebago where the quarry wants to expand.

Barb Byrne lives in Cass County, but lives just 100 feet from the new part of Greenwood where Martin Marietta Mining Company wants to expand its mining operations. That means blasting that Byrne said already rattles her home would get a lot closer.

“I’m in an earth-sheltered home. If I can be in my home and can feel and hear blasts, it’s pretty bad,” Byrne said.

The proposed expanded operations would also come within a half-mile of a brand new Lake Winnebago dam. That lakefront community’s HOA sent a letter to Greenwood asking questions about the blasting plans and expressing concerns about the damage it could cause to the dam.

In its first 30 years of operations, Greenwood sued the mining company.

“Over the years half of our foundation has crumbled out because of the blasting. We change our filters more than anybody in this town,” Greenwood resident Pinky Arellanez said.

Shortly after the commission voted unanimously against a special use permit in January, Greenwood Mayor Levi Weaver announced an ad hoc committee bringing in other communities to study the issue.

After initial meetings, the committee was delayed by COVID-19. It was then disbanded after one short meeting months into the pandemic.

“It was like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ Twelve minutes and we’re done, and he got nothing. There was no compromise,” Byrne reacted.

Tuesday, though, residents pointed out the city didn’t provide copies, the commission approved the new ordinance changing zoning requirements for mines and the length of time for a permit from 30 years to “a limited period of time not to exceed 30 years.”

“Regardless of what the amendment is to the time frame, the premise is still the same. It’s not right,” Bryce Noon told the commission during nearly three hours of public comment against the mine before the vote.

“Is it positive for Martin Marietta? I’m sure it is. What is the positive for the City of Greenwood?” Lily Hurt asked.

Many also said they were disappointed the way this meeting was advertised, in the print edition only of a Lee’s Summit paper with little information on Greenwood’s website as to what the meeting was about. 

Greenwood’s mayor has repeatedly ignored requests for comment regarding the mine expansion and annexation but previously posted the following to his Facebook page:

“I failed to truly see them as also being a part of our extended community.

“So where do we go from here? I want every one of us to be a part of the process in Moving Greenwood Forward but it can’t be done with just a few of us, it will take not only Greenwood but our extended community to the south of us to be successful.”

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