By Conrad Dudderar
A Yukon advisory board rejected a property rezoning for industrial use after neighbors shared concerns about large truck traffic and a proposed soil mining operation.
The Yukon Planning Commission on April 12 voted 4-1 to deny rezoning a 57.25-acre property on the north side of State Highway 66 east of Cimarron Road. The applicant, Williams Family Investments LLC, wants to rezone the now-vacant land from A (agriculture) to I-2 (heavy industrial).
The applicant also asked for a conditional use permit to allow mining of soil from the property – but this request and a preliminary plat application were not heard after commissioners rejected the rezoning.
Yukon’s Jack D. McCurdy II, who lives on the south side of W Highway 66 across from the applicant’s property, expressed fears about what he and his neighbors could face with a soil mining operation.
“We have houses across from there,” McCurdy told planning commissioners. “We’re going to be covered with dirt.
“The wind is going to blow, and when it blows from the north, it’s going to blow all that dirt from that mining operation into all the houses that we live in across the road.”
McCurdy opposed rezoning the site for industrial use.
“All you have to do is drive a mile west of this property, on the south side of the road, and you see an ‘oilfield junkyard’,” said McCurdy, a Canadian County district judge.
“It looks like every oil company in Oklahoma dumped their junk down there on that corner. So, that’s what it’s going to look like across the street from all of us that have houses built right there.”
There is a large hill/ridge running through the center of the property and the resulting steep slopes do not lend to industrial site development, said project engineer Jason A. Spencer of Crafton Tull & Associates.
Because of the good structural quality of the soil on-site, the owner has asked to mine soil from the property to reduce the slopes and prepare for future industrial development.
Required permitting through the State Department of Mines, Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality and the City of Yukon would be completed before soil mining operations start, Spencer told planning commissioners.
The project engineer said existing drainage patterns would be maintained, and necessary erosion control facilities incorporated to protect neighboring properties.
WHAT IS APPROPRIATE?
The City of Yukon’s Future Land Use Plan indicates this subject property is appropriate for industrial operations.
The property is between SH-66 and the Union Pacific Railroad, and less than one-half mile from Interstate 40 and one mile from Clarence E. Page Municipal Airport.
“The area to the south, directly across U.S. 66 in Oklahoma City, is zoned I-2 and is currently used for industrial purposes,” Spencer told commissioners.
The engineer reasoned that I-40 and SH-66 provide excellent routes for truck traffic, eliminating the need for trucks to drive on residential roads.
Yukon’s Dale Dorsey, manager of Williams Family Investments, told commissioners the front 10 acres of the property is for lease now and the back portion of the site would be for the soil mine.
“The mining permit is going to be separate from any kind of lease property we do,” Dorsey explained. “We’re going to lease the front half, and then the back half will be the mining permit.
“Once the mine is done, then we’ll go in and develop it for use.”
Several property owners shared their thoughts about heavy truck traffic during the April 12th planning commission meeting.
Tractor-trailer traffic along that stretch of SH-66 already concerns some nearby residents.
“If they’re running as many trucks out of there as they run out of their mining operation to the west of there, it’s just going to be a traffic nightmare,” McCurdy predicted.
Vehicle drives (“cut-outs”) to the property on SH-66 are not large enough to handle heavy truck traffic accessing the site, he added.
Large trucks making wide turns from a trucking company to the west have severely damaged the roadway shoulder in front of McCurdy’s house.
Roy Middleton, who lives nearby on W Highway 66, shared his primary “safety concern adding that much more traffic” on that site.
He referred to an entry/exit just over a hill rise that would make it difficult for trucks to see eastbound traffic when pulling out.
“There is not a proper turnaround for that kind of traffic, for trucks that large,” Middleton added. “Not to mention the other concerns about having a mine directly across the road from the front porch.”
Regina Fitzgerald, of N Richland Road, lives directly behind the subject site. She is concerned about the affect a soil mining operation could have on her 30-acre property, which has horses and a well.
“It’s pretty much our livelihood,” Fitzgerald told commissioners.
‘NOT DIGGING A HOLE’
After the public comments, project engineer Spencer reiterated there is a large hill on the property that the applicant wants to “flatten down.”
“We’re not digging a hole; it’s not going to affect groundwater or floodplain,” he explained.
Spencer referred to extensive permitting required for the mining operation, saying there will be “a lot of oversight on that.”
It is the operator’s responsibility to make sure dirt and dust do not leave the site during soil mining.
“There will be erosion control measures put in that will be inspected and monitored to make sure they’re working,” Spencer emphasized.
Permitting entities could halt operations if those measures do not work, the engineer noted.
“We’re going ‘above and beyond’ in asking for the ability to sell the dirt that’s coming off this site,” Spencer said. “It’s temporary in nature but it’s hard to determine how long that will go on because it’s based on the need for the dirt.”
A motion to approve the rezoning request was denied by a 4-1 vote, with only planning commission chair Bill Baker voting yes.
The applicant could appeal the planning commission’s denial to the Yukon City Council.