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Saukville
Town, county dig for common ground on quarry plan PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by MARK JAEGER   
Wednesday, 08 October 2014 20:26

Board sends reclamation plan back to committee that rejected it in hopes of reaching a settlement

Ozaukee County’s reclamation plan for the proposed Opitz gravel pit on Birchwood Road has been returned to the Town of Saukville’s Quarry Committee for tweaking.

The action came last week after a three-hour, quasi-judicial appeal hearing before the Town Board.

The appeal was filed by county officials after the town committee voted to reject the county reclamation plan — a document that must be in place before gravel quarrying can begin on the 35-acre site.

The county acquired the property in 2012 and contends there are more than 400,000 cubic yards of sand and 360 tons of gravel there that could be extracted. Those reserves would be sufficient to supply road projects for up to eight years, according to the county.

But what happens after the quarrying ends is the focus of the state-mandated reclamation plan.

The county’s 17-page reclamation plan was prepared by Dale Buser of Stantec Consulting, and the town’s critique of that plan was prepared by Mindy Ochs of Endpoint Solutions.

Both experts were questioned extensively during the appeal hearing.

County Corporation Counsel Rhonda Gorden and Town attorneys John and Nicholas DeStefanis took turns questioning witnesses and raising objections to points of law even though there was no judge present to rule on those objections.

Town Chairman Don Hamm and supervisors Curt Rutkowski and Mike Denzien listened as the attorneys took turns posing questions. A court reporter took down a transcript of the proceedings.

The Endpoint summary said the county plan was vague in some areas and contradictory in others, but the analysis suggested the key shortcoming is that the Opitz plan should be coordinated with similar plans for two adjacent county quarry sites known as the Lakeland and Guenther pits.

Internal roads are expected to link those sites, and material taken from the Opitz property is certain to be used at the county’s hot-mix plant.

The county’s primary objection to the Quarry Committee’s rejection of its plan is that the town did not offer county officials an opportunity to take corrective action.

Committee member Nancy Neylon testified that her vote against the plan was meant as an invitation to work out areas of difference with the county, not as an outright denial.

“We did not want to simply deny it. Calling the plan materially deficient was a matter of semantics. It simply needed to be fixed,” Neylon said.

Gorden said it was difficult to read any nuance in the town’s response to the county plan.

“All we have in writing is a denial,” she told the board.

Sensing the county’s willingness to address issues raised in the Endpoint analysis, John DeStefanis urged the town supervisors to remand the reclamation plan to the Quarry Committee.

“I would ask that you return this to the two parties, and if an acceptable agreement doesn’t happen in a short period of time, you can right the ship,” he said. “Nobody is trying to sandbag the county.”

Rutkowski agreed with that logic, asking that the committee be given until Oct. 29 to work with the county on suitable plan modifications.

“I urge both sides to resolve this issue. It needs to be resolved,” Hamm said following the unanimous approval of Rutkowski’s motion.


 
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