Town of Milton set for experts to probe gravel pit plan

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Neil Johnson
Saturday, September 8, 2012

— Town of Milton officials on Monday could choose a consultant who they hope can answer lingering questions about a controversial plan for a gravel pit along Klug Road.

The board could choose at least one of four consultants who plan to give proposals for answering environmental questions from the town planning and zoning committee.

The committee has said it would use those answers in deciding whether to OK a 137-acre gravel pit proposed on a hillside east of North Klug Road near dozens of residences and a state-protected marsh area.

Elkhorn road paving company B.R. Amon & Sons and landowner Scott Traynor of Milton seek approval for the pit, which Amon & Sons would operate for at least three years to provide sand and gravel for road construction projects.

The pit operations would level part of the hillside, and Amon & Sons later would restore the area as farmland, under the proposal.

The board Monday is slated to take up discussion of the pit’s conditional-use permit application, but Town Chairman Bryan Meyer said he believes it would be premature for the planning and zoning committee to make a recommendation on the pit.

“It’s feasible that there might be other questions that somebody might have considered in the meantime, but I certainly don’t anticipate any recommendation. It’s clear they (the committee) want a consultant to source the answers first,” he said.

Town officials have indicated they’d require Amon & Sons to pay for the consultant’s study through an escrow arrangement, although the town would be considered the consultant’s client.

Meyer indicated that having the permit application on the floor Monday could give town officials leverage to make sure that arrangement is met.

One of four consultants’ estimates studying the issue to answer the committee’s questions could cost between $12,000 and $24,000.

Gravel from the pit would be used for road construction projects.

The future of the proposed pit has been in limbo since earlier this summer, when the planning and zoning committee decided it should hire a consultant to probe lingering questions.

At times, Amon has expressed frustration with a process that seems to have ground to a snail’s pace, although he’s told The Gazette he’s reluctant to discuss the matter while his permit application is pending.

One consultant has said it could take them about three weeks to answer the town’s questions about the pit plan, according to town records.

Meyer said he believes that the town’s in the right by taking its time to craft a set of questions and select a consultant, but he’d like to see the process move forward soon.

“There’s some pressure to due process. They (the committee) want to make a good decision, but how long is it fair to make a permit applicant wait? Can you drag it out for a few years. Is that fair?”

Meyer said he believes the Highway 26 project and the pending Interstate 90/39 expansion will generate continued interest for sources of sand and gravel in Rock County.

“If it turns out that it (Amon’s plan) makes sense, one of the benefits will be that this landowner will benefit, as opposed to some other region. But it also has to make sense,” Meyer said.

The gravel pit plan has faced opposition by a group of neighbors that has threatened to file a lawsuit if the town approves the pit.

They argue the pit would ruin residential property values nearby and could harm the sensitive aquifer and ecosystem of adjacent wetlands.

If the town did approve the pit plan, it still would need regulatory approval by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and zoning approval by the Rock County Board, officials said.

Last updated: 4:40 pm Tuesday, August 27, 2013

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