Quiet quarry expansion plans now drawing notice in Wilkeson

By Kevin Hanson, The Courier-Herald

Expansion plans by Sunset Quarry near Wilkeson progressed quietly over the past year, but are now raising the ire of a group of local residents.

Their concerns, however, may be too late.

A conditional-use permit - allowing greater production from the quarry, necessitating more truck trips through the small town - was granted last month by the office of the Pierce County Hearing Examiner. It apparently sailed through with minimal notice in the small town, and an appeal period has lapsed.

But that hasn't stopped a band of quarry foes. A flier headed "Alert Notice" has been making the rounds, and spells out a series of potential impacts that could arise from increased mining operations. The single-sheet flier claims roads will become more dangerous due to increased truck traffic, air pollution will increase, property values will drop and children will be at risk because of truck traffic.

The flier urges concerned citizens to attend tonight's (Wednesday) meeting of the Wilkeson Town Council, which begins at 7:30 p.m. in Town Hall.

One person who was fully aware of Sunset Quarry's plan was Councilman Terry Endsley. He began raising concerns a year ago, he said, "but I couldn't get a rise out of anybody." Eventually, Endsley said, he backed off.

Instead, Endsley has been focusing on efforts to get Railroad Avenue improved. He said the Sunset Quarry owners (Wyss and Son of Yakima) and other commercial interests are expected to band together to pay for a significant portion of the street upgrades.

The quarry expansion involves a variety of sites, all east of Wilkeson, and includes approval for many more trucks on Railroad Avenue. Those eventually channel onto state Route 165 that runs through Wilkeson, past Burnett and toward Buckley. The quarry's traffic volume of slightly more than 100 trips per day could increase to more than 300 trips per day.

Endsley's name appears on the flier that was circulated last week, listed as a contact person for those wishing to complain about the quarry expansion. But he doesn't claim to be an ally. "There are a few folks in town all of a sudden upset about this," he said, adding his belief that a final decision has been made.

Kevin Hanson can be reached at

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