Written by MARK JAEGER
Wednesday, 17 September 2014 19:04
Attorney for agency says town should have allowed county to respond to site reclamation concerns
Ozaukee County gained a powerful ally in challenging a ruling by the Town of Saukville’s Quarry Committee that blocks the development of the 35-acre Opitz property on Birchwood Road as a gravel pit.
A letter from an attorney with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources suggested the town committee overstepped its authority in rejecting a reclamation plan required before the county can begin using the property.
The opinion was requested by the county’s corporation counsel, Rhonda Gorden.
DNR attorney Michael Szabo said the town committee incorrectly rejected the county’s reclamation plan outright without offering the county “the opportunity to make corrections.”
The county acquired the property in 2012 and says there is as much as 400,000 cubic yards of sand and 360 tons of gravel available that could be extracted. That material would be used by the Highway Department on local roads.
According to the county, that much material would be sufficient for seven to eight years of quarrying.
Before any of that material can be removed from the site, however, a reclamation plan has to be accepted by the town detailing the conditions when the quarry is no longer being used.
The town hired a Franklin engineering firm, Endpoint Solutions, to review the county’s 17-page reclamation plan.
Based on that review, the committee rejected the county proposal.
A key component in the town’s stand is that the Opitz pit plan should incorporate reclamation plans for two adjacent county quarry sites — known as the Lakeland and Guenther pits.
According to Szabo, the county is not required to link the reclamation plans of all its quarries.
“Unless there is going to be shared activity, i.e. storing material from mine A on the mine B site,” he wrote. “Saukville should have reclamation plans, reclamation permits and financial assurances on the adjacent mines, so their inclusion in this plan is not necessary.”
Town Attorney John DeStefanis commented last month about the committee’s desire for a more coordinated reclamation plan.
“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.
A special meeting of the Quarry Committee and county representatives is planned for 9 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 23, at Town Hall.