Quarry Committee drafts resolution asking for road services in exchange for natural resources
Last year, Town of Saukville officials reluctantly cleared the way for Ozaukee County to begin quarrying sand and gravel from a 35-acre property on Birchwood Road, locally known as the Opitz property.
Now, the town’s Quarry Committee — which handled the negotiations on the county’s reclamation plan before the mining permit could be issued — is crafting a resolution spelling out concessions the town would like to receive from the county in exchange for that approval.
“Basically, the resolution is asking for compensation for loss of natural resources that the town has experienced over the years,” said Victor Frank, who serves as cochairman of the committee.
The committee shared a draft version of a resolution spelling out proposed concessions with the Town Board last month. The resolution will again be considered at the board’s Tuesday, Feb. 17 meeting.
The preface of the proposed resolution restates a premise often raised by town officials.
“The Town of Saukville has nearly 3,000 acres of tax-exempt land … the (town) maintains all town roads and fire protection to these acres,” the draft resolution states.
Included in those tax-exempt properties are three county-owned gravel pits and a hot mix asphalt plant, along with Hawthorne Hills Golf Course, Tendick Park, Ehlers Park and Pioneer Village.
Other tax-exempt properties cited in the draft resolution include the Cedarburg Bog, Riveredge Nature Center and the Blue Heron Wildlife Refuge.
However, it is the county’s quarrying operations that provided the impetus for the town’s push for county concessions.
“For the past 40 years, natural resources have been removed from the Town of Saukville for the benefit of the entire Ozaukee County with no compensation to the town,” the draft resolution states.
With that in mind, the committee is asking town supervisors to back a request that the county make assurances that it will be responsible for the maintenance of Lakeland Road between Highway 33 and the entrance to the county’s asphalt plant.
Similarly, the committee’s resolution asks that the county repair any potholes at the intersection of town roads and county highways, and grade all town gravel roads in spring and fall.
The draft resolution asks that the accommodations be granted for as long as the county continues quarrying and asphalt operations in the township.
County officials previously suggested there is enough sand and gravel available on the Opitz property, which was purchased in 2012, to provide materials sufficient to meet the road-building needs of the highway department for as long as eight years.
As a housekeeping measure, the draft resolution also asks that the county maintain a minimum of a 200-foot setback of quarrying operations from the property line of the Opitz pit.
Committee members made the same request during consideration of the reclamation plan for the gravel pit.
Ozaukee County Highway Commissioner Robert Dreblow deferred commenting on the resolution until it is presented by the town to the county.
However, he said the county is already providing services to the town.
“We already have responsibility for maintaining Lakeland Road from Highway 33 to the entrance to our (asphalt) plant under a prior agreement,” Dreblow said.
He said the highway department also patches all potholes reported on county highways in the township.