Clayton County Supervisors appear ready to approve controversial mine expansion

Pattison Sand Company near Clayton.
Pattison Sand Company near Clayton.(KCRG)
Published: Aug. 22, 2016 at 8:39 PM CDT
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Clayton County supervisors gave an initial “go-ahead” to a controversial sand mining expansion on Monday.

Pattison Sand Company, located near Clayton, wants to rezone nearly 750 acres of farmland to heavy industrial. The company has leases with current owners to allow expansion of the company’s underground sand mining activities.

Company officials touting the plan have played up the jobs created. Pattison currently employs about 150 people in the area. But opponents expressed concerns about dust created by the operations as well as greatly increased truck traffic.

The biggest demand for Pattison Company sand in recent years has come from the oil industry. The sand mined in Clayton County is used in the fracking process to get at hard-to-reach oil deposits underground.

Opponents organized to try to stop the future expansion of the company’s activities to more land.

Vic and Kay Vifian own land either surrounded by current Pattison operations, or the nearly 750 acres the company wants for future expansion. They had hoped supervisors would hear their concerns about environmental and quality of life issues.

“It seemed like they were listening to public comments but ended up not changing their minds very much,” Kay Vifian said.

Clayton County Supervisors, at a Monday public hearing, did discuss some conditions to the company’s rezoning request. Pattison would have to be responsible for any harm to area wells, do all mining activities in the expanded area underground and put ventilation shifts no closed that 500 feet to property lines.

Mine owner Kyle Pattison expressed relief at the unanimous decision by supervisors to approve the first of three readings.

“It’s a key part of our future planning for our long term survival,” he said.

Assuming the vote by supervisors does not change in two future readings, opponents have one final chance to block the mine expansion.

The last permission needed for the rezoning and future expansion by Pattison Sand Company would need to come from the county’s board of adjustment. What’s required there is a conditional use permit to allow the underground mining or possibly impose new restrictions.

One county official says that meeting probably won’t happen before October or November.