County ready to pass ban on quarries in residential areas

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — About a year after residents in Americus received public notices of a proposed stone quarry in the town, county commissioners are ready to pass an ordinance banning stone quarries in residential areas.

The ordinance received no opposition by the public Monday. But as News 18 discovered, the opposition may not have known about the ordinance.

When you drive down the Old State Road 25 leading into Americus, Ind., signs saying “stop the quarry” can be seen by drivers. One local group may be very close to achieving just that.

“County commissioners are our last line of defense,” said Nate Hofmann with the Americus Area Community Coalition.

One year of education and research culminated Monday at the Tippecanoe County Commissioners meeting. Hofmann gave a presentation against stone quarries in residential areas, and asked the commissioners to pass an ordinance that would ban the operation of a stone quarry within a 2 mile radius of 100 or more residential homes.

“It’s a measure of protection for residential homeowners,” Hofmann said. “It’s a measure you need. If companies are allowed to do what they please, it’s not a good effect on residential homeowners.

Hofmann’s research started after he received a public notice that the Rogers Group was planning to build a stone quarry 2,000 feet from his Americus home.

According to Hofmann, there are 153 homes within a mile of the proposed stone quarry location meaning the Rogers Group’s quarry would be banned if the ordinance is passed.

The ordinance passed its first reading Monday 3 to 0. Commissioner John Knochel said some recent events involving the Americus quarry allowed commissioners to quickly draft an ordinance.

“When the Rogers Group pulled their petition from the Board of Zoning Appeals, that gave an opening,” Knochel said.

The ordinance received no opposition from the public Monday. However, no one from Rogers Group was at the meeting. The reading of the ordinance was not directly on the meeting’s agenda. It was read when commissioners reached the new business section of the agenda.

So, Knochel was not surprised Rogers Group representatives were not there.

“I’m not sure that they even knew that this was proposed because it came about very quickly,” said Knochel.

The Board of Commissioner’s attorney Doug Masson said the reading of an ordinance does not have to be a line item on an agenda. He said the current draft of the ordinance did not get to the commissioners until late Friday and may have missed the deadline of getting on Monday’s agenda.

Commissioners do expect members of The Rogers Group to be at the second reading of the ordinance at their next meeting July 7.

Monday evening the Rogers Group released this statement regarding the ordinance:

“We would have appreciated the opportunity to attend today’s County Commission meeting, but neither we nor the public were given notice. We are disappointed the Commission voted after hearing from only one side. We hope the Commissioners will allow the BZA process to run it’s course. Or at the very least, hear from engineers and experts who can answer our neighbors questions and refute some of the misinformation that exists.

With over 100 years of operating quarries under our belts, we have a considerable amount of information to offer if given the chance. We look forward to being valuable member of the community in Tippecanoe county.”

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