County tables shingle recycling plan until July 17

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Ian Gronau | June 24, 2014

TOWN of LaFAYETTE -- The Walworth County Zoning Agency voted unanimously on June 19 to table a conditional use application that would give Southwind RAS LLC the ability to operate a proposed shingle recycling operation on the former B.R. Amon and Sons pit on Potter Road.

Bankrupted B.R. Amon and Sons had acquired a stock of shingles, estimated to be about 40,000 tons, that has been sitting on the property, which has been in receivership for the past two years. Southwind RAS LLC is negotiating purchase of the property based on obtaining a permit to recycle shingles on the premises. The shingles would include both those in the existing pile, and material shipped in from neighboring communities, for a 15-year period.

Members of the CZA considered the issue after hearing from a long line of concerned residents on Thursday night. The proposal issued by Southwind RAS LLC previously passed the LaFayette Planning Commission by a 5-2 margin and the town board despite considerable opposition from residents. After considering the planning commission and town board's recommendation, the CZA has the option to either side with or overturn their rulings. Attending residents were anticipating a decision on the matter Thursday night, but the final vote has been delayed until the CZA's meeting next month.

During the hearing, Walworth County Sheriff David Graves, who is also a town of LaFayette resident, expressed concerns about the county's ability to monitor the weight of added traffic that may accompany Southwind RAS LLC's operation if the permit is approved.

"Enforcing weight limit restrictions on roads requires special training," said Graves. "Right now we only have one officer on staff who is trained to do it."

A large number of other residents voiced concerns ranging from decreased air quality from shingle grinding, contamination of ground water, litter blowing from inbound trucks, noise and light pollution and a repeat occurrence of another company abandoning the work site. Town of LaFayette resident and attorney Lisle Blackbourn asked the CZA for further site testing, to turn down the conditional use application and examine alternative options.  

"This is the bottom of the ninth, and the bases are loaded," said Blackbourn, addressing the CZA. "We need your help to shut this down, so please vote no on this conditional use."

After the hearing, the CZA deliberated, and decided that more information specifically outlining the differences between the existing conditional use attached to the site and the one being applied for was needed in order to rule on the issue.

The CZA is currently scheduled to vote on the conditional use during the front end of their meeting on July 17 at 4:30 p.m.

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