Monarch eyes new quarry site



July 21, 2015 - 12:00 AM

HUMBOLDT — In a search for new dirt to be used for cement manufacture, Monarch Cement Co. has a new proposal to mine ground it owns about four miles north of Humboldt. Allen County’s Planning Commission will decide Thursday evening —  starting at 7 o’clock in the assembly room — whether to recommend a conditional use permit for Monarch to remove clay and shale, but no limestone, from the half section (320 acres) it has acquired over the past few years.
About 16 months ago Monarch sought to quarry limestone, as well as clay and shale, on the land north of town. That proposal was to carry the material by truck along 1300 Street, a rock-surfaced artery maintained by the county, to K-224 and on to Monarch’s plant at the south edge of Humboldt.
Then, planners voted unanimously not to recommend approval of a permit, citing adverse effects the hauling would have on families who live near 1300 Street, as well as concerns about the rock-surfaced road standing up to heavy traffic. Monarch withdrew its original request before county commissioners — final authorities in such matters — considered the planners’ recommendation.
This time around — coming after Monarch acquired additional land lying between old U.S. 169 and the proposed quarry site — the company proposed to build its own access route to the old highway with adequate turning area at the juncture, and then follow hard-surfaced roads south through Humboldt to its plant.
Schwab-Eaton, the county’s engineering firm, said the additional truck traffic — 10 trucks an hour, three days a week — would not be detrimental to the structure of the former highway, which also runs through Humboldt, according to Bill King, director of Public Works.
Quarry operations would start on 128 acres west of the Southwind Trail, at the northwest corner of the property. Studies have found soil to be 30 feet deep in that portion of the property, enough theoretically to last Monarch for 40 years. When soil removal was completed, the site would be reclaimed according to state requirements, Monarch said. Quarrying then would move to the second portion, east of the rail trail.
In one of its justifications for quarrying north of Humboldt, the company noted: “The continued economic viability and prosperity of Monarch Cement Company requires clay/shale as a part of the cement manufacturing process.” Also, the company pointed out it was a major employer in the county and “does business with a number of other Allen County businesses.”
As for the proposed quarry site, Monarch observed: “There are only three existing home sites located within a quarter of a mile of the proposed borrow pit. All are owned by Monarch … (which) intends to keep these homes as rental properties.”

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