Winter Brothers Material Co estimates that $500 million worth of sand and gravel lies in its property near Euraka, Missouri.
Eureka’s Planning and Zoning Commission is considering Winter Brothers’ request to rezone 247 acres of company-owned land within the city. The company wants the city to replace single-family residential zoning with flood plain zoning, which would allow mining.
But some Eureka residents near the site have renewed a fight that began in 2001, when the company first proposed the mining operation. The arguments have changed little in 13 years centred on increased traffic.
Winter Brothers officials respond that mining would take place on only a few acres at a time and would involve no blasting, no rock crushing and no additional traffic on city streets because trucks would use a new company-built road with direct access to Interstate 44.
Gregory Hoffman, Winter Brothers’ lawyer, said the company withdrew the previous rezoning request in part over complaints about potential truck traffic on residential streets.
To ease that concern, the company spent years negotiating with the Missouri Department of Transportation and the state Department of Natural Resources to get permission to build a road across a sliver of Route 66 State Park to connect the mining site to I-44’s south outer road, he said.
The outer road would allow trucks entering and leaving the site to get directly to I-44 by using Williams or Lewis roads, Hoffman said. A traffic study found the project would add less than 1 percent of vehicle volume to the current volume on I-44 at Highway 109, said Ryan Winter, a company vice president.
If the zoning commission grants Winter Brothers’ request, Eureka aldermen would be required to approve the rezoning and issue a conditional use permit to allow mining. The company would need a similar permit from St Louis County to mine on unincorporated acreage.
Contributing to the company’s urgency to begin work is depletion of sand-and-gravel deposits elsewhere in the region and more concrete-requiring construction resulting from the improved economy, Hoffman said.
“We think the demand is up,” he added. Winter Brothers says that land has little other use commercial use.
According to the company’s rezoning request, the Meramec has flooded portions of the site 19 times in the last 100 years, making the area unsuitable for homes. Raising the most flood-prone area above the floodplain would cost an economically unfeasible $19.9 million, the company said.
Hoffman said that once mining permits are obtained, the company would need about 18 months to begin going after the sand and gravel. Crews would remove topsoil, which would be sold, to expose sand and gravel that dredges would move to a truck-loading area.