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Saukville
Town, county settle quarry differences PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by MARK JAEGER   
Wednesday, 29 October 2014 20:08

Once reclamation plan changes are finalized, permit will be OK’d for Birchwood Road property

The Town of Saukville Quarry Committee and Ozaukee County have come to a tentative agreement on an amended reclamation plan for the operation of a gravel pit on the 35-acre Opitz property on Birchwood Road.

The county acquired the Opitz property two years ago and estimates there are more than 400,000 cubic yards of sand and 360 tons of gravel on the site that could be extracted. Those reserves would be sufficient to supply road projects for up to eight years, according to the county.

An approved reclamation plan is required before the county can begin quarrying operations on the site under Wisconsin Administrative Code.

Although the 17-page reclamation plan was completed in January, it has taken the better part of a year for the document to be tweaked to the satisfaction of town and county officials.

On the recommendation of a consultant hired by the town, the committee rejected the plan, contending that action was meant as an invitation to the county to refine the plan.

County officials insisted the committee’s denial automatically put an appeal process into motion, resulting in a series of meetings with the town between Sept. 23 and Oct. 9, including a formal appeal hearing before the Town Board.

It was a result of those sessions that a tentative agreement on the reclamation plan was reached, officials said.

Quarry Committee Chairman Victor Frank said the revisions made to the plan address many of the town’s concerns regarding compliance with the state code.

The plan changes include better identifying the wetlands on the property, mapping to show the intended contours and flow of groundwater on the land after mining is complete and an indication of the planned progression of gravel mining sites on the parcel.

Several operational issues are also addressed in the modified plan, including the designation of access roads and the agreement that stockpiles of top soil will be shaped and seeded if intended to stand for more than six months. Nutrient levels of soils will also be tested prior to mining, to ensure that the land is sufficient to grow native vegetation after quarrying is complete.

Frank said the county plan amendments stopped short of one goal the town has been pushing for — consolidating the Opitz pit with the county’s existing Lakeland and Guenther pits.

“Although we look at these as three contiguous pits, I understand it would have been expensive to rewrite all three of those reclamation plans,” he said.

Franks said some “wish list” suggestions have also been forwarded to the county, although they are not required by the state code.

The most important of those added items, according to the committee, would be a 200-foot buffer zone from quarrying operations and any adjacent property line.

“This is something that will affect people’s property values for years to come. Who would want a bulldozer working within feet of their property?” committee member Tom Ravn asked.

Also being sought is an assurance that no off-site fill, salt or hazardous materials will be stored on the property and the suggestion that the town be compensated for the volume of materials removed from the property in lieu of taxes.

Rather than payments to the town, Frank said it was suggested the value of those materials could be “paid off” in the form of road work done for the township.

Frank said those kinds of county concessions would be subject to approval by the County Board and would not be part of the reclamation plan.

The committee chairman spoke favorably of the give-and-take process that led to the tentative plan agreement.

“We felt that this is the best we could do,” Frank said.

The county has 60 days to file an amended reclamation plan with the town.


 
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