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County approves rezone for limestone mine after two weeks of pushback

Marsheila Pryor, right, speaks alongside Owasso resident Pamela Kirk on Monday, Nov. 202, 2023, in the Tulsa County commissioners' building. Pryor's grandparents live a couple hundred feet away from where county commissioners approved a rezone for a limestone mine.
Max Bryan
/
KWGS News
Marsheila Pryor, right, speaks alongside Owasso resident Pamela Kirk on Monday, Nov. 202, 2023, in the Tulsa County commissioners' building. Pryor's grandparents live a couple hundred feet away from where county commissioners approved a rezone for a limestone mine.

In the third week of deliberation between developers and residents, Tulsa County's commissioners approved a zoning change for a limestone mine in the Owasso area.

Commissioners unanimously approved the zoning change near Highway 169 and East 56th Street for a Greenhill Properties mine. District 2 Chief Deputy James Rea voted for the change in Commissioner Karen Keith's absence.

Developers are still in the permit approval process, and said the mine won’t officially begin operations for several years.

Commissioner Stan Sallee, who represents the area in question, said his move to approve the rezone took residents’ concerns into consideration. Some opposed the development, citing dust and noise pollution at a meeting last week.

"It’s always a difficult decision, but it’s not like you can go across the street and open up a mine," he said. "These veins of limestone are running through particular areas that property owners are aware of."

Developers told commissioners last week that the mine would satisfy the Tulsa area’s demand for stone. They also said the Oklahoma Department of Mines has never asked any of their mines to cease operations due to complaints.

Public Radio Tulsa has requested all complaints submitted to the Department of Mines about Greenhill quarries and related documents from the past 10 years.

David Charney, an adjacent property owner and managing partner of the Owasso Land Trust, said devlopers did their due diligence.

"The science, the mechanisms by which these mining activities are measured, supported our application," he said. "And although there are those who feel differently about our application, we tried our very best to let the two coexist."

But area residents were not pleased with the decision. Pamela Kirk is concerned the dust in the area will affect residents’ health.

Marsheila Pryor said her parents, who are in their 90s, can feel blasts from another quarry a mile away — and the new operation will be much closer, at less than two football fields away.

"If you can imagine sitting at the end zone of a football field, and down that football field and half of another one, you’ve got blasting going on. You’ve got rock crushing going on with the constant pounding. You’ve got the trucks going on with the beep-beep-beep-beep. You’ve got the dust," Pryor said.

Max Bryan is a news anchor and reporter for KWGS. A Tulsa native, Bryan worked at newspapers throughout Arkansas and in Norman before coming home to "the most underrated city in America." Several of Bryan's news stories have either led to or been cited in changes both in the public and private sectors.