Janesville41.2°

Town of Milton gravel pit plan stalls out again

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NEIL W. JOHNSON
June 12, 2012
— Town of Milton officials on Monday stalled a decision on a proposed gravel pit along North Klug Road, deciding they wanted a professional opinion about whether the pit would meet a slew of environmental standards.

That puts the controversial plan in limbo for the second time in six months, as landowner Scott Traynor and would-be developer BR Amon & Sons of Elkhorn wait for a list of questions the town's planning and zoning committee will draft later this week.


Those questions would ultimately go to an independent engineer who would bring back recommendations the board and committee could use to approve or decline a conditional-use permit for the gravel pit.


The move came even as the Milton Town Board and the planning and zoning committee were poised to grade the plan on a dozen standards town attorney David Moore had drawn up for Monday's meeting.


The standards were based on zoning and environmental conditions the board had suggested for the plan last month. They included whether the pit would:


-- Create environmental hazards or a "negative" impact on air or water.


-- Be "compatible" with current land use and the public interest.


-- Conflict with agricultural uses.


The standards are the crux of whether the town would approve a conditional-use application by Amon and Traynor for the gravel pit.


On Monday, discussion was sidetracked when planning and zoning committee member Scott Barker said he felt the town lacked enough hard facts to decide if the pit met or fell short of many of those standards.


Even though the committee decided the plan met less than half the standards outlined Monday, Barker and a few other town officials said they felt they lacked the expertise to move forward with the determinations.


"I see subjectiveness, subjectiveness," Barker said. "I want to base decisions we make on real facts."


Barker pushed for a professional opinion on concerns linked to the proposal, but he and other town officials have stopped short of suggesting a full environmental study.


That could cost thousands of dollars, Moore said Monday. Moore suggested the town instead come up with a list of "specific" questions about issues such as gravel pit noise and erosion and submit those to an independent engineer.


The planning and zoning committee voted to meet Thursday to assemble those questions, which would ultimately go to the town board for approval. The questions then would go to a consultant chosen by the township.


Town officials then would use that feedback to decide whether to approve or deny the gravel pit.


"Is that still stalling out the process? Yeah. But at least it's moving it forward," Barker said.


No timeline was offered for the plan, but officials said the town would require Amon & Sons and Traynor to pay for consulting work.


On Monday, Amon & Sons owner Tom Amon declined to say if he was willing to pay.


"First I have to know what it is you're trying to get answers (for)," he said.


Amon, who appeared frustrated as he left the meeting, declined further comment.


"There's nothing to comment on. Nothing happened," he said.


He wasn't the only one frustrated Monday.


Linda Schalk, who heads a group of neighbors along Klug Road who oppose the gravel pit, wondered why town officials shifted gears to form a committee to raise more questions. She believes the town should have moved to deny the quarry when it found the plan failed to meet many of the town's standards.


"You went through this, and the majority of the questions you've said no to," Schalk said. "It seems irrelevant and improper to continue when you've already answered the questions no."


Schalk and the neighbors group has indicated it will take legal action if the town approves a conditional-use permit for the gravel pit.


If the town approves the gravel pit, it still would face zoning and environmental approval from Rock County and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.



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