Janesville31.8°

Gravel pit review facing slowdown

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Neil Johnson
July 10, 2012

— Nearly a month has passed since a town of Milton committee pledged to seek a professional review of a controversial gravel pit plan along Klug Road.

Yet Monday, the committee said it's no closer to answers—and no closer to a decision on whether to grant a conditional-use permit for the 137-acre proposed pit.

The town planning and zoning committee on June 14 formed a list of questions about environmental concerns with the proposed gravel pit plan. It intended to seek environmental and civil engineering consultants to get answers.

The committee tabled further review of the application Monday, telling the town board it needed more time to line up consultants to carry out the review.

Committee Chairwoman Marian Trescher said committee members didn't start sending out feelers for consultants until early last week. She said one engineering firm responded, but it can only answer one of the committee's questions relating to dust at the proposed gravel pit.

On top of that, Trescher said the consultant needs 10 days before it can supply cost estimates and a timeframe to answer that question, which would account for just one of 10 questions the committee seeks answers for.

Committee member Scott Barker said the group needs more time to learn which firms are interested and which aren't.

"It's probably going to be another month before we even have half a list," he said.

Committee members indicated they had put out inquiries to more consultants within the last week, but selecting consultants has not been a clear process.

Last week, all members of the committee failed to respond to media inquiries about the status of its review process. Milton Town Hall was closed most of last week.

Records of the review process—including a copy of a June 5 letter from the gravel pit applicant, BR Amon & Sons, detailing the company's own response to the committee's review questions—were not available to the media last week.

The letter, which the committee had publicly agreed to send to Amon & Sons, was dated June 25—more than a week after the committee had decided on its questions.

Costs for the review would be paid by Amon & Sons but conducted by independent consultants of the town's choice, officials said.

The committee did not formally approve its list of questions until Monday and the town board has not yet signed off on it.

The review is being viewed as the final step before the committee makes a recommendation on the pit.

Town Chairman Bryan Meyer said last week he hoped the committee was close to getting all of its facts and to making a recommendation on the application by Monday.

It's now clear the review process has barely even started.

Trescher told The Gazette she couldn't say how long the review could take, noting, "I have no idea. I've never done one before."

She also told The Gazette it takes time to work with consultants about such matters, and that people shouldn't expect a conclusion immediately.

Meanwhile, landowner Scott Traynor of Milton and Amon & Sons continue waiting to learn the fate of their proposed gravel pit.

The men seek to dig gravel from the hillside on Klug Road for road projects and then reclaim the land as farmland in a three to five-year period.

Traynor and Amon & Sons President Tom Amon both declined comment Monday.

Some town residents wonder just what process is occurring.

Klug Road resident Russ Caley, who is part of a group that formed a grassroots campaign to stop the pit plan, believes town officials have been stalling on a decision.

"It's like nobody even wants to make a decision at all," he said.

"They push it back and forth and go 'hee and ha,' and then never decide anything at all."



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