Committee rejects reclamation proposal for 35 acres Ozaukee County wants to use for gravel pit operations
The Town of Saukville Quarry Committee denied Ozaukee County’s reclamation plan for the 35-acre Opitz property during a special meeting Monday.
An approved plan is needed before the county can begin removing sand and gravel from the property, which it purchased in 2012.
The Ozaukee County Board took away the town’s zoning authority over the proposed gravel pit, but Wisconsin Administrative Code ensures that the town has a say on the steps that will be taken to restore the Birchwood Road site once quarrying operations cease.
The county submitted its reclamation plan along with a $3,500 permit fee earlier this year. According to the state code, the committee had 60 days from the July date it received the plan to act on it.
According to the county, the site has more than 400,000 cubic yards of sand and as much as 360 tons of gravel that could be extracted. The county estimates there is enough material for between seven and eight years of quarrying.
The town hired the Franklin engineering firm Endpoint Solutions to evaluate the county’s 17-page reclamation plan.
The firm’s analysis, which was initially reviewed last week, detailed several deficiencies in the county plan.
The report was used as the justification for the committee’s unanimous denial of the county plan.
The Endpoint summary said the county plan includes “a number of requirements that are either not addressed … or the information included is rather vague and should be further clarified to ensure consistency both in compliance with and enforcement of the reclamation plan.”
The Endpoint summary said the county’s plan fails to identify the location of surface waters and drainage patterns and underestimates the cost of returning the property to its natural state. The report also says the county plan is unclear on where internal access roads will be located and how much of the property will be quarried at any one time.
The key recommendation, according to the committee, is that the Opitz plan be coordinated with reclamation plans for two adjacent county quarry sites — known as the Lakeland and Guenther pits.
“The committee strongly feels that the better practice is to show this subject property and its proposed reclamation fully in the context of its greater physical surroundings, including neighboring properties, uses, topography and hydrogeologies, as well as its more immediate surrounding land,” the committee motion crafted by Town Attorney John DeStefanis said.
As committee members talked about the decision to reject the county’s plan, they said they hoped their counterparts would see it as a call for collaboration.
“I think it is important that the county see this as a sign we want to work together with them on the plan, rather than having the plan be passed back and forth,” said committee member Tom Ravn.
“That would simply be a waste of time and money.”
DeStefanis said the committee’s denial of the reclamation plan essentially starts the entire process all over.
“If the changes you are proposing are considered significant, I would think it would require a new application and another public hearing,” he said.
“I would urge you to use this as an opportunity to take a global approach that incorporates the other two pits, to develop a big picture of what the area is going to look like.”
DeStefanis said it did not appear the shortcomings of the county plan were insurmountable.
Based on the strong community interest in the quarry operation, Committee Chairman Victor Frank said it is a given that additional public input will be crucial.
“There will be no approval by this committee until there is another public hearing,” Frank said.
“We owe it to the public to keep them apprised of every step along the way.”
Committee members acknowledged that integrating the reclamation plans for the three county quarries is certain to delay the approval process.
“The ball is in the county’s court and it will be no simple task to pull all three sites into a new plan,” Ravn said.