The Sugar Creek Board of Aldermen Monday voted 3-2 to approve the first reading of two ordinances that would authorize subsurface limestone mining of Cedar Crest in Sugar Creek.

The Sugar Creek Board of Aldermen Monday voted 3-2 to approve the first reading of two ordinances that would authorize subsurface limestone mining of Cedar Crest in Sugar Creek.

The first ordinance would rezone the property called Cedar Crest, a former dairy farm located north of Kentucky Road and east and west of Jennings Road, from residential to manufacturing use. The rezoning would only apply to the subsurface of the property.

Lafarge North America filed an application to start a mining operation beneath Cedar Crest. The company requested the city approve the rezoning of the subsurface and then approve the special use permit.

Lafarge would pay Sugar Creek royalties for the rock removal. They have reduced the number of years for the mining from 10 years to five and have pledged to aggressively monitor dust and vibration levels.

But there are about 1,400 homes, several churches and an elementary school and a mental health facility that the mining would impact. A group called Cedar Crest, Swearingen, Farview Concerned Citizens was formed to fight Lafarge’s request because they believe excessive blasting already in the area is affecting quality of life and more mining would only add more dust, property damage to homes and excessive noise.

The second ordinance the board approved for first reading was a special use permit. This would allow Lafarge to mine the subsurface.The rezoning is a prerequisite to the second ordinance that, if approved, would grant Lafarge a special use permit to start mining. If the rezoning ordinance does not pass, there would be no need to vote on the special use permit, said Sugar Creek City Attorney Bob Buckley.

In essence, Monday’s meeting did not approve the two ordinances. It merely sent the ordinances for second reading at possibly the next board meeting. Their next meeting is at 7 p.m., April 12, at Sugar Creek City Hall.

If aldermen approve the ordinances at the second reading, they pass and mining would start.

The first reading vote was 3-2. On both ordinances, voting against the ordinaces (no to mining) were aldermen Stanley Sagehorn and Dennis Onka. Voting yes for both ordinances were aldermen Joseph Kenney and Lorcan Doyle. Breaking the tie was Mayor Stanley Salva, who voted yes.

The board voted to approve the rezoning and special use permit ordinances, sending them to a second reading.

Buckley said there are some issues that are still outstanding that need to be resolved before the second reading. Aldermen had several questions at the meeting that will modify the conditions Lafarge must adhere to during mining.

 Buckley said he hopes all the questions are answered in the next 30 days so the alderman can vote on the second reading.

Salva, who is the key vote among the split board, reiterated his stance on the issue. It’s about future revenue for Sugar Creek.

“The whole project is being considered not to cause any hardship on anybody,” Salva said. “In terms of an economic value to our city, it’s tremendous. Just like all cities in this country, we are strapped for revenue.”

The limestone that will be mined will not be that much, Salva said, and the royalties from that would be good but not like the long-term business potential after the rock is removed. It’s the creation of subsurface space that would lead to many jobs and more money for the city. After the proposed area is mined, the subsurface will be usable underground commercial space for warehousing and storage.

The city would impose tight standards on Lafarge if it approves the requests, including completion of pre-blast surveys of the foundations of homes within 500 feet of the mine, penalties for violations of blasting limits and reducing blasting limits below current city standards, among other conditions.