Scott City, Seminole Ag-Lime quarry owner at odds over road access

Monday, November 23, 2009

The owner of a limestone quarry in Scott County is quarreling with the Scott City government over access to his property.

On Sept. 15, Scott City issued Norman Harty, who owns Dexter, Mo.-based mining company Seminole Ag-Lime, a letter that stated he would be violating a city ordinance if he drove his trucks on Rock Levee Road, which is the only city street with access to the quarry. The road has an eight-ton weight limit. When fully loaded, Harty said his trucks weigh 24 tons.

The letter also stated his trucks would cause health and nuisance problems to residential homeowners along Rock Levee Road.

On Sept. 30, 2008, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources issued a mining permit renewal for Harty to mine the quarry.

Harty said the city's letter threatened him by implying legal action if he drove his trucks on Rock Levee Road. The letter cites a jury verdict of nearly $12 million against another Missouri quarry owner and trucking company for driving heavy trucks on residential streets "under the theory that the activity constituted a public nuisance."

Harty said he would sue the city if he cannot get access.

If Harty sued, Scott City Mayor Tim Porch said he would expect the earlier court case to justify the city's action.

Porch said he declined Harty's offer to sponsor a bond that would fund repairs to roads damaged during limestone transportation. Health and nuisance problems outweighed the offer, Porch said.

Harty said he mined the quarry from 1991 to the late 1990s, using the rock for such jobs as paving highways. Around 1998 or 1999, he said, he stopped mining the quarry because health issues were causing too much stress and business was slow. His permit to mine expired. He said he applied for a permit renewal after he felt his health was restored and business started to pick up. He owns and operates one other quarry.

The city said in its letter that it hadn't totally prevented Harty from accessing his eight acres of property, because adjoining property owners could grant him access to his property through theirs. Harty once accessed his quarry by a dirt road that now runs through the private property of Teena Sharrock. Harty said she and the other bordering landowner, David Westrich, won't let him pass through their properties to get to the quarry.

Sharrock declined to comment for this story, and Westrich didn't return calls to his business phone.

The letter also stated that Harty's trucks would negatively affect the safety of residential landowners along Rock Levee Road, "including noise, dust, exhaust fumes, problems with ingress and egress from private driveways, and safety concerns for children playing in the yards or exiting school buses."

Terry Baker lives on Rock Levee Road, which runs along the northern outskirts of Scott City, and said he moved out there two years ago to escape the noise he experienced while living in the city. On a Tuesday afternoon, Baker's children played in their front yard, which borders the road.

"We don't have [any] traffic and we have kids, and we don't want dump trucks coming up and down our road," Baker said. "Look, it's peaceful out here. We just don't want it."

But Harty said the quarry would benefit Scott City.

"The only thing they're doing is depriving the community of jobs and income," Harty said.

Porch said the quarry is none of the city's business because it is outside of city limits.

The quarry is worth between $1.5 million and $2 million, Harty said.

"I'm going to pursue it and eventually somehow get it open," Harty said. "I have the right to open it

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