PRESS EDITORIAL: The pavement crusher next door

In 2018, Town of Grafton residents fought and won a battle to keep the nuisance of an industrial park out of their residential area in the lakeshore countryside. Now a new proposal threatens to establish a different but no less offensive industrial operation near the same location.

The site is farmland along Ulao Road just west of Highway C. Located about midway between I-43 and Lake Michigan, the land is zoned for agriculture. It is near a daycare center and a residential neighborhood that includes a newer subdivision with attractive homes on landscaped lots.

What is now proposed for the land could not be more out of character with these surroundings—a concrete plant and pavement crusher.

A contractor for the I-43 reconstruction project is seeking a conditional use permit from the Town of Grafton to use the site for roughly the next four and one-half years. Besides pavement crushing and concrete production, the land would be used to stockpile materials and store roadbuilding machinery and vehicles.

According to the contractor, Hoffman Construction Co. of Black River Falls, operations would go on at night for the rest of this year, and then at intervals from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and sometimes on Sundays.

When the Village of Grafton attempted to annex the land in 2018 for an industrial park, Town of Grafton officials stood by their constituents, who were fighting the proposal with petitions and mass appearances at hearings. A resolution opposing the annexation     adopted unanimously by the Town Board was instrumental in killing it.

This time, it seems town residents won’t be able to count on that support. The Town Plan Commission scheduled a Sept. 1 hearing on the conditional use permit, and Town Chairman Lester Bartel told Ozaukee Press,  “I don’t see a reason why we wouldn’t recommend this.”

Bartel said the affected land is “a pretty good site” for the highway building support operation.

Good for the contractor, perhaps, but certainly not for nearby residents.

The town government has no obligation to provide a convenient site for the company that won a multimillion dollar contract to do some of the I-43 rebuilding work. But it does have an obligation to consider the impacts on town homeowners when asked to allow land uses requiring conditional use permits.

The likely impacts of the concrete and crushing operation are wholly negative. There is no way to put a positive spin on the noise of heavy machinery operating from early morning until after sunset, sometimes throughout the night, sometimes seven days a week, or on the heavy truck traffic transporting old asphalt and new concrete or on the sure-to-be unsightly accumulation of materials and equipment in a 10-acre construction staging yard.

Town officials have presided over the transformation of farmland into homesites, and have seen the town treasury benefit from the resulting increase in valuation and tax revenue.  They have the luxury of the almost certain prospect that the town will prosper even more as demand by homeowners for its beautiful east-side acres grows. Permitting an industrial nuisance in this environment is as counterproductive as it is unfair to the families that chose to live in the relative quiet of the Town of Grafton countryside.

A resident of the Waterstone subdivision near the site now earmarked for the highway operation was quoted in Ozaukee Press as saying, “When I bought the property, I thought this would be the perfect place for my kids where they could play by the lake, and now we’re going to have something ugly staring at us everyday. I feel a little betrayed because we thought it was all for residential property.”

The words were spoken at a meeting in February 2018 in opposition to the planned industrial park. Three and a half years later, they are a perfect fit for the potential 2021 intrusion into the same residential area.  

Regardless of what the Plan Commission’s decision is, the elected members of the Town Board should act to protect the town’s semi-rural character and the quality of living and property values of homeowners by refusing to issue the conditional use permit.

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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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