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South Wichita dirt and sand operation to expand

Wichita, Kan. (KSNW) -  A development in south Wichita is expanding. Some neighbors say it's too dusty.

"We can not open our windows because everything is absolutely covered with dust," says Amber Shook, who lives just north of the development.

That development is currently removing topsoil. But it's expanding and changing to become primarily a sand extraction operation with a rock crusher. And the Wichita City council just approved the zoning for the new operation.

"In the past some conditions weren't being followed. And so the neighborhood is just concerned that the conditions that are being imposed are not going to be followed up on," says Wichita City Council member James Clendenin. 

The development is in Clendenin's third district. It's just off the corner of 55th south and Clifton Avenue.

The developer has done a lot of operations in Wichita housing and says he's happy to abide by a rather lengthy list of demands to move forward.

"We made an agreement to get our arms wrapped around this property and put a fence around it which is a requirement when you do a sand pit," says Jay Russell of J. Russell Communities. "We've agreed to put a berm to separate it from the houses to the north. We've agreed to have a full-time, on-site manager. We've agreed to dust suppression. We've agreed to a limited amount of days that the rock crusher can be used and we've agreed not to have any truck traffic go north past a school (Oaklawn Elementary) on school days."

Clendenin says he will occasionally drive by to see if the rules are being followed. And, he adds, when the sand is removed there will be a lake that leads to a new housing development.

"It is an exhaustive list of conditions, and we just have to be sure that we are being diligent about enforcing those so the community can have a nice place to live," says Clendenin. "On the flip side, I want that area developed. Making that happen... this is part of the process. Neighbors should not be affected too much by the process. This operation will not be topsoil. It will be rock crushing and a sand extraction operation. Large water trucks will be out there to make sure any material that's extracted will have water and keep the dust down to a minimum."

Amber is hopeful, but says the dust from the current operation has not been good for the family.

"The weekends are the only time when they are not working that we don't have dust flying," says Amber.

Other restrictions for the new use of a sand pit extraction operation includes no holiday operations and no Sundays.

Jay Russell says he's happy to move forward with those restrictions.

"I've developed a lot of properties in the area," says Russell. "I'm a good neighbor and we have wrapped our arms around this property. It will be done right."


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