Someday, houses will line the shore of a new lake in the Village of Caledonia; maybe with a lakeside park and other developments. That’s the vision the operators of the aggregate quarry in the Village if its plans for expansion are approved.
But don’t pack your bags for a day at the lake quite yet; it would happen around 2040 or so. In the meantime, plans include a new quarry blasting site between Ellis Avenue and 3 Mile Road that will straddle Charles Street.
The Plan Commission held a public hearing on Monday on a proposed zoning ordinance amendment to allow for a future expansion of an existing quarry at 1501 3 Mile Road that has operated at that general location for more than a century. Payne and Dolan bought the quarry a few years ago from Vulcan Materials.
After a presentation from the petitioner, questions came from Plan Commission members and questions from the public.
The quarry operator, Payne & Dolan, owns a total of 349 acres and it looks to rezone and expand a segment of the land to increase its output. Especially in the face of increasing local demand.
Crushed stone is being used locally on a number of projects, not the least of which is Foxconn. In the first few months of construction, the Foxconn site is expected to see the delivery of 1,000 truckloads of aggregates every day.
Projects at companies such as Amazon, Uline, SC Johnson, and massive highway projects in Racine County, have created more demand for the kind of crushed stone produced by this and similar quarries. Crushed stone from a source close to where it is needed can be delivered at a lower cost to the customer.
Payne and Dolan Vice President Brian Endres and resources manager Clint Weninger described current operations and touched on the importance of the quarry’s location. They noted that, if the rezoning and expansion plans are not approved, mining of aggregates at the site could end in a matter of years. If the request is denied, “we are going to have to maximize the property to get out all of the resources we can,” said Endres.
Data and dust
The company representatives used visuals to remind the capacity crowd that crushed stone is, literally, an important element in daily life. They noted that 90 percent of concrete is crushed stone and that the construction of a new home requires 340 tons. In fact, 20,000 pounds of crushed stone are produced for every man, woman, and child in Wisconsin each year, they said.
Crowd members, who waited through the presentation, as well as questions by Plan Commission members, were more focused in the blasting impact, dust creation, damaged homes and home values, not to mention truck traffic.
Several speakers said they feel the ground shake from the occasional blasting. The quarry operators noted they comply with the Village blasting ordinance, as well as other state and federal regulations. A third party monitors the blasts and immediately reports it to multiple agencies. Homeowners in the immediate impact area of the blasts are offered free property evaluation by a third party.
The Payne and Dolan representatives said they also operate within strict standards for monitoring dust, which was another stated complaint. Reports are sent to the Environmental Protection Agency, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and Federal Mine Safety & Health Administration. However, those reports come from the company and are not collected by the agencies themselves.
The permanent crushing plant happens deep in the quarry. And it would remain in place if the plan is approved, the company says. If the plan and zoning change is not approved, that plant could be replaced with slower, less efficient portable crushing equipment. That would allow the company to mine the ground beneath it. Also, an additional 20 acres in the quarry can still be mined under current zoning and permits, meaning the quarry will remain operational for years.
Without approval of changes, mining on the opposite side of Charles Street will not occur.
The Plan Commission chose to table the proposal until Aug. 27. The next scheduled Plan Commission meeting, July 30, was thought to be too soon for staff to address a number of questions that arose from the hearing.
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