Area residents who live near a north Tulsa rock quarry are worried about a potential expansion of the land’s mining operations.
Several dozen Owasso citizens attended the Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission meeting on Wednesday to voice their concerns about the project, which would extend Greenhill Properties LLC’s quarry boundaries along Owasso’s fenceline.
A Greenhill quarry is currently located at 14701 E. 46th St. North, which is east of 145th East Avenue. The expansion would be northeast of 56th Street North and U.S. 169 on about 280 additional acres just west of Bird Creek, in closer proximity to residential areas.
Other quarries also are in the area.
“Adding more mining activity to this area would be devastating,” Owasso resident Barbara Morrison said, “not only to the residents who live in the immediate area but also to the environment and to the city of Owasso.”
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Cindy Holt, who also lives in Owasso, added: “The face of Owasso is going to be impacted. Traffic’s going to be affected, damage to landscapes, smoke, noise, dust, … loss of land and a deterioration of water quality.”
Despite public pushback, the commission voted 4-3 to recommend rezoning the northeast and southeast corners of the high-traffic U.S. 169-56th Street North corridor to permit further industrial development.
Original plans to enlarge the quarry’s operations covered a range of nearly 660 acres, stretching from U.S. 169 past Bird Creek to the east into more populated residential areas along 145th East Avenue.
The commission, however, updated the proposal to reflect the smaller acreage, which would have a reduced effect on surrounding neighborhoods, according to Dwayne Wilkerson, principal planner for the city of Tulsa.
“I think basically the idea of removing several hundred acres out of consideration and limiting mining operations to the west side of Bird Creek is … much further away,” Wilkerson said previously, “so this would have much less impact than what the original application was.”
David Charney, managing partner with Owasso Land Trust, echoed Wilkerson’s sentiments, adding that operations to extract “significant limestone deposits” within the updated sector would complement the ongoing industrial growth in the area.
“Our effort is to try to bring … some future planning that allows us to do wonderful recruitment of good operations,” Charney said. “The demand is what the demand is. What we’re trying to do is … make certain that mining occurs where it’s supposed to.”
Affected residents such as Ashley Parks, whose proximity to a quarry just south of 56th Street North gives her continued cause for concern, will have another chance to address the Tulsa City Council before the proposal goes up for a vote there.
“I’m surrounded by three rock quarries, and this (expansion) will make four,” Parks said. “My forever home has cracks in the foundation, in the walls, and broken windows.
“Not only is this destroying my home, but it is also destroying the roads around my house,” she said of the increased traffic, especially from heavy trucks, which frequently use 56th Street North to commute to and from the quarry.
The city of Owasso has taken some steps to help reduce the impact of quarry traffic within its fence line.
In March 2018, for example, city leaders installed “Not a Truck Route” signs along both 76th East Avenue and 129th East Avenue, which has led to a reduction in commercial truck traffic on those routes.