By Paul Thompson
For weeks, the City of Grandview has been caught up in litigation regarding air quality at the Ideker Asphalt Plant, located on the west side of I-49 along 150 Highway.
While that issue awaits resolution, new concerns are being raised over potential oil drilling on the east side of town. The city first became aware of an issue over the summer, when a community member called Grandview city offices asking about the commotion by Kelley Road. Upon further investigation, city staff found that Kansas-based JTC Oil was drilling at the site.
“The state had issued them a permit,” said Grandview Public Works director Dennis Randolph. “They took the state permit, and came out and starting drilling. Community Development got a call.”
Community Development then went out to the site and shut down operations, telling JTC Oil that they would need to file an application for a conditional-use permit before drilling could commence. Although no application has yet been received, city staff has met with representatives of JTC Oil on multiple occasions.
“Back in July we met with guys from the oil company, and told them the process they needed to do,” said Community Development Director Chris Chiodini. “Then they hired an attorney to represent them, to draft some of the required information, and the attorney had several questions. We had a second meeting with them, and I know city planners and myself have followed up with their attorney.”
Randolph remains worried both about environmental repercussions and the long-term effects to one of the city’s most promising development areas. According to Randolph, the biggest environmental concern is that the property in question lies along a flood plain. In terms of development, the city has already completed long-term planning studies for the area, and even did re-zoning there last year.
“Our plan doesn’t call for this being vacant with a bunch of oil wells in it,” said Randolph. “The view is basically a bunch of two-foot pipes sticking out of the ground, about 80 of them.”
Randolph further argued that the oil wells would conflict with the city’s best use of the land.
“We intend for this to have nice housing. Nobody’s going to want to develop with that,” said Randolph. “We’re concerned about the city. You know the work we’re doing for the city. Our vision for Grandview isn’t to have these types of uses.”
Although an application has not been submitted, Chiodini noted that based on his conversations, he expects JTC Oil to turn one in soon.
“They’ve been considering what their options were, I’m assuming,” said Chiodini. “My impression is that their intent is to meet the city’s requirements, and submit an application.”
Once an application is submitted, a decision on whether to grant a conditional-use permit can be expected in roughly two months. An application for a conditional-use must be submitted 45 days before the Planning Commission meeting in which the case will be considered. One week after that, the Board of Aldermen could hold a public hearing discussing the application. Two weeks after the public hearing, a decision could be made at a regular Board of Aldermen session. In order to receive a recommendation from the Community Development department, though, the company would still need to agree to several other conditions.
“There are other issues that need to be addressed, as far as landscaping, and screening, and containment systems for the oil storage tanks that would be on site, how they’re going to access in and out of the site, noise levels, and things like that,” said Chiodini. “We just don’t know enough because they haven’t submitted a permit yet.”
When and if the paperwork is submitted, however, city officials fear that they could be facing another public battle.“It’s another case where DNR (Department of Natural Resources) has issued a permit without talking to us,” said Randolph. “It’s déjà vu all over again.”