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Engineers urge Lee’s Summit to watch for mine collapse risk

Updated: 2014-01-15T00:52:02Z

By RUSS PULLEY

Special to The Star

A report on the safety of roads adjacent to an undermined area in Lee’s Summit and a proposed quarrying operation suggests at least some risk of collapse under streets north of Interstate 470.

The draft report from Terracon Consultants Inc. did not imply any imminent hazard. But it did recommend the city take precautions to monitor road and mine conditions near city rights-of-way.

The report also said that provided there is carefully controlled blasting, subdivisions south of Interstate 470 should not be damaged by seismic waves.

The draft report, commissioned by the city and delivered in December, said the existing mine will continue to deteriorate over time and continuing roof failures should be expected, particularly where rock and soil over the mine roof is thin.

That includes several spots along Quarry Park and Noland and Clifford roads, the report said. There are a handful of residences and several businesses along those roads.

Terracon’s report didn’t directly address whether active mining increases the likelihood of collapse.

Flip Short, owner of the site and proposed quarry, said his team has reviewed the draft and intends provide revision comments to Terracon.

Short owns land above an idle limestone mine that underlies a large area north and south of Intestate 470, west of Pryor Road.

He intends to use an open-pit mine to reclaim about 70 acres north of I-470 for redevelopment, by removing the unstable roof and lowering the ground level. He also plans to sell the rock mined in the process.

The unstable nature of the mine is one reason he proposes removal of the rock. But opponents who live nearby contend that could destabilize other parts of the mine nearby and endanger their property.

Short said he has begun some preliminary site work in anticipation of a state permit and is “more certain today that this is the best approach for the community.”

The operation, known as Family Ranch, has applied for an open-pit mining permit with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources. .

The Family Ranch team said it is pursing the permit, although it maintains the state initially told them one was not necessary.

Opponents of the mining operation said Terracon’s report confirms their concerns. They also complain that excavation of some sort has started, next to Quarry Road, saying they’re observing jack hammering of rock.

“The city is not doing anything about it,” said Scott Blankenship, who owns a business next to the mine.

Blankenship said the state told him it isn’t able to take action unless Family Ranch begins to sell rock without a state permit.

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