Concrete company eyeing new site
After the Tonganoxie planning commission turned down Gene Meier's plans last month for a concrete batching plant along Laming Road, the Topeka businessman turned to Plan B.
Now, the owner of Meier's Ready Mix holds an option to purchase about five acres along the west side of Leavenworth County Road 5, south of U.S. 24-40. And he's hoping he can build his batching plant there.
Meier needs a little help from city officials, though.
On Jan. 5, the planning commission is set to consider an addition to the city's zoning ordinance that would allow concrete mixing or batching plants on land that carries I-2 (light industrial) zoning. A public hearing on the issue will be conducted at that meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. at Council Chambers.
Under the change that planning commissioners would consider, a concrete mixing or batching plant would be allowed if all mixing operations and storage of materials were within an enclosed structure. In addition, the change calls for the site to be well-screened from all sides.
"A batch plant would be allowed, but that batch plant would have to be fully enclosed," said Chris Eppley, city administrator. "So we've made some modifications so that there are tight reins on the type of batch plant that we would allow. All of the trucks would be in a neat, orderly fashion. The mixing will occur inside closed containers, so it should be very, very clean and efficient."
Meier said he believes the land he's eyeing on the west side of County Road 5, across from Meadows Construction is well-suited to his company's needs. The site, which is owned by Steve Sturgeon, carries an I-2 zoning designation.
"At least we'll be compatible with everybody else in that area," he said.
In early November, planning commissioners denied Meier's request for industrial zoning on Laming Road, after hearing objections from area residents and receiving a protest petition signed by 196 people.
At that meeting, however, several planning commissioners said they wanted Meier's plant, but not on the Laming Road site.
"If we get there, we will be a quality operation," Meier said. "It will be a first-class operation."
Meier said Tonganoxie residents shouldn't be concerned about dust. At a batching plant, he said, rock, cement and water are mixed and then dumped into a truck.
"We've got a 12-inch vacuum line that takes any cement dust that escapes and brings it back through a filtering system," he said.
"We want to be a good neighbor. We will be a good neighbor. That we guarantee. We have a lot of pride in our operations."
Meier operates in 11 Kansas cities: Atchison, Ozawkie, Holton, Topeka, Burlington, Osage City, Emporia, Council Grove, Herington, Junction City and Manhattan-Ogden.
"We run a real nice operation in every city," he said. "We try to make it look nice. We haven't had complaints anywhere."
The company, which was founded in 1973 in Topeka with two trucks, now runs about 105 trucks and employs about 165 people.
Meier said he anticipates that 10 to 15 trucks will be based in Tonganoxie and the company will employ 15 to 17 people.
"We've been able to hire high-quality people because we're paying good wages," he said, adding that the pay rate is $12 an hour or more.