When: 6 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Peosta City Council Chambers, Peosta Community Centre, 7896 Burds Road
PEOSTA, Iowa — A rezoning request tied to blasting and rock quarry activities in Peosta is sparking concern among nearby residents and prompting city officials to propose a unique possible solution.
Peosta City Council members are slated to consider the request during their meeting on Tuesday, April 12, for a Spiegel Family Realty property on Cox Springs Road.
Activity at the site already has stirred up concern in the neighborhood about the impact of continued blasting in the area and heavy truck traffic.
When reached by the Telegraph Herald this week, AJ Spiegel declined to comment.
According to documents released by the city on Friday, council members are considering supporting the zoning request if certain restrictions are added to address concerns.
“The Spiegel Family, LLC has provided information to the council showing that their intended plan for the ‘quarry property’ is residential use (and) that the operation of the quarry is not intended to be long term,” according to the notice.
The Harbaugh family has lived across the street from the property for more than seven years. Peg Harbaugh said blasting and rock removal activities have occurred there for years, despite the fact that the land only recently was licensed as a quarry.
“My daughter was home when one of the blasts happened, and her eyes got as big as saucers, and she was like, ‘What was that?’” Harbaugh recalls. “It feels like the whole earth is shaking.”
Harbaugh is concerned about the impact the blasts might be having on the foundations of area homes. She also is worried about how activities at a quarry could impact water quality and the environment.
“The dust is so thick,” Harbaugh said. “Last year, I was actually mowing our lawn and I had to stop mowing because the dust it was kicking up was so thick that I couldn’t see where I was going.”
Other city residents also reached out to the TH to express their concerns over the proposed rezoning.
Last summer, a complaint was made to the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship that the land was being used as a quarry without the proper licensing. Harbaugh said her family did not make the complaint.
In response to the attention from the state, Spiegel Family Realty applied for and received the proper quarry licensing and mine registration documentation.
That drew city officials’ attention to the property, and it was discovered that quarry activities are impermissible under the land’s current agricultural zoning. Spiegel Family Realty submitted an application to rezone the property from agricultural to heavy industrial with a conditional-use permit to allow for mineral, sand or gravel extraction.
“This is not something that the city is trying to stir up to cause any controversy,” City Administrator Annette Ernst said. “… We reached out as a city on the advice of our city attorney (Douglas Herman).”
In March, Planning and Zoning Commission members recommended that the City Council approve the rezoning request.
“It was taken to the Planning and Zoning, and they thoroughly vetted it,” Ernst said, explaining that the board researched seismic blasts.
The public hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday in the City Council Chamber at Peosta Community Centre.
Harbaugh plans to attend. She would like to see residential development in the area, but she is concerned about the implications of industrial zoning and whether it might be a slippery slope, leading the city further away from its goals for the area.
“The big question is, what are the pros for the community?” Harbaugh said. “What are the pros to the rest of us?”
During a work session Thursday night, City Council members discussed the zoning request. Ernst said that on Herman’s recommendations, council members came up with a potential compromise.
The council could approve the heavy industrial zoning request with restrictions, such as making the change temporary and requiring that the zoning revert back to agricultural if the land is ever sold or leased. Similarly, the zoning could limit industrial use to quarry activities with no other industrial activities permitted.
On Tuesday, council members will have the opportunity to consider the first reading of an ordinance to change the zoning. The Zoning Board of Adjustment also must hold a public hearing and consider granting or denying the conditional use permit.
Ernst urged anyone with questions or concerns to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 563-556-8755.