Control over gravel pit for DOT project out of our hands, board tells frustrated neighbor

Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – The Wisconsin Department of Transportation trumps any local rules when it comes to gravel pits and the like for road projects.

Town resident David Zimmermann learned that Tuesday when he brought concerns about a gravel pit next to his home on Briar Trace to the Town Board.

“The pit was closed and now it’s open again. One of the contractors for the DOT opened it up. We have had our issues with the pit,” Zimmermann told the board.

He related an incident a few weeks ago when the contractor was digging sand on the site, “almost on our lot line, close to our house. It was like a sandstorm,” Zimmermann described, forcing his family to close windows and doors to keep the sand from flying into their house.

“It kind of looks like a moonscape back there,” Zimmermann said.

“I talked to Kiel Sand and Gravel and they said basically they can operate from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. It’s temporary and they can do anything they want,” Zimmermann related. “I don’t know what we can do.”

While board members sympathized with his plight, they said there was little the town could do for Zimmermann and his neighbors.

“We have extensive rules on gravel pits under our conditional use permit (ordinance), but the DOT is exempt,” Town Attorney

Jim Hughes explained. “At one time they were not exempt, but the Legislature changed that.”

Zimmermann expressed fear that the site could be used for a concrete or asphalt plant for the current State 23 project or future projects on the road.

The board did assure Zimmermann that there would be no concrete plant for the current State 23 project next to his house, as the town granted a permit for that at a site on Branch Road last month.

But as for the future, they conceded there is little the town can do.

“We’d like to help but our hands our tied, pretty much the same as you,” Town Chairman Jim Lubach said. “The pit was closed until the Legislature changed the rules.”

He did say that the DOT has designated the pit next to Zimmermann’s home as a borrowed extraction pit, meaning that whatever dirt, gravel or other material the contractor takes out must be replaced once the project is completed.

Lubach also said that there will be public meetings on future State 23 projects which town officials will attend and suggested that Zimmermann and his neighbors might want to attend those.

“When we do (attend the meetings), we’ll try to voice your concerns,” Lubach told Zimmermann.

“Basically, what our subdivision has to do is work at the state level,” Zimmermann commented, adding, “Good luck with that.”


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