585 signatures collected; Jackson quarry annexation decision likely to go to public vote in Jackson

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Voters will likely decide whether a quarry near Fruitland will become part of Jackson.

The annexation merry-go-round that began last December when residents of Fruitland wanted Jackson to allow them to incorporate as their own town, took another twist Tuesday. The city received 585 signatures to put the decision to annex the Heartland Materials quarry to a vote of the people. Without a petition, the decision would rest in the hands of the board of aldermen. The signatures -- more than the 485 that is required for a public vote -- still must be verified.

Should the quarry parcel annexation require a vote, requests for annexation by four subsequent applicants will be stalled. Their tracts, which lie on the other side of the quarry land, will no longer join the Jackson boundaries and will not be eligible for annexation if the issue fails, according to Jackson Mayor Barbara Lohr. The vote would not affect the Fruitland annexation.

Lohr said plans to hold public hearings on the remaining zoning and annexation requests have been put on hold.

"It is in a state of flux," Lohr said.

Owners of the approximately 240-acre area along County Road 601 applied for voluntary annexation to Jackson on Oct. 5. Danny Dumey of Heartland Materials has said the quarry and landowners involved are interested in the mutual benefit to be gained from a business relationship with the city. The quarry is already in operation and is permitted and regulated by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

The quarry has met opposition since planning stages, including efforts to block and overturn its permits by residents in the unincorporated Fruitland area, as well as Saxony Lutheran High School. Most recently, a judgment was made ordering the DNR to conduct a formal hearing on allowing its mining operations to continue.

In voluntary annexations, the city and landowners are usually in cooperation. It is a relatively simple process and can be approved by an ordinance adopted by the board of aldermen. Only objection by the applicants, rejection by the city or formal dissent by five percent of voting residents of the city can impede it. In the case of a successful resident petition, a public vote must be held to determine whether the land can join the city.

A group of residents of the Fruitland area surrounding the quarry land has been seeking to incorporate to create protection against mining and other heavy industry proposed nearby. They are waiting to hear if Jackson will annex them as well. State law requires that cities within two miles of unincorporated areas have a say whether the area should become part of the existing city. Fruitland residents have asked the city to allow Fruitland to incorporate, but Jackson government officials appear poised to attempt the annexation, which would also require a public vote. A decision by the aldermen is expected Monday.

In the meantime, Fruitland residents have been against the quarry lands becoming a legal part of Jackson ahead of settling their own annexation issue. The quarry land is seeking heavy industry zoning upon annexation which will be adjacent to unzoned county residential areas.

However, as residents of the county, people in Fruitland do not have a legal voice in the matter. They have been seeking support from Jackson residents and Monday were able to amass enough signatures.

"We have had some very dedicated residents of Jackson help out," said Tim Sutterer of Fruitland.

Mary Lowry, Jackson city clerk, said 585 signatures were received. Kara Clark Summers, the county clerk, confirmed that her office has received the petition for certification. Each signature has to be verified as belonging to a voter who lives within the Jackson city limits. Once that process is complete, a report will be sent to the city. According to the county clerk's office, at the time the petition was filed there were 9673 eligible registered voters in Jackson. The required 5 percent would have been 484.

The city has tentatively scheduled a vote on the matter for Feb. 7, to coincide with the presidential primary and save the expense of a special election.

Summers said verification usually takes a week or two, but about a third of the signatures had already been checked by midday Tuesday. Few signers had moved residences and petitioners had written clearly, which helped the process move quickly, she said.

salderman@semissourian.com

388-3648

Pertinent address:

101 Court St., Jackson, MO

Map of pertinent addresses

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