Heartland Midwest: City waived permit process in recent months - KCTV5

Heartland Midwest: City waived permit process in recent months

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An attorney for the contractor at the center of the investigation into the gas explosion at JJ's Restaurant says the city had stopped requiring contractors to get and pay for digging permits.

Brad Russell, an attorney, said the city last year didn't require the permits in an effort to expedite the process for Google Fiber.

Heartland Midwest faxed a request for a permit on Feb. 6 to dig to install fiber optics for Time Warner Cable. The city did not receive the fax and didn't learn about the attempt until the day after the Feb. 19 explosion. The city would have rejected the permit request because it was incomplete.

But Russell said Kansas City stopped collecting permit fees once Google Fiber came to the area.

"That became very important because there was no requirement for us to get formal approval of the permit before initiating the work," he said.

A Heartland Midwest crew struck a Missouri Gas Energy gas line on Feb. 19. Seventy minutes later, an explosion ripped through JJ's and officials are investigating to determine whether built-up gas from the lake is to blame.

Also at issue was whether the lines were properly marked for when Heartland Midwest employees began digging that fateful day. 

Russell said Heartland Midwest and its investigators plus others will be digging to see what exactly pipes were underneath the ground and where they were located in an effort to determine what led to the explosion.

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