Town Board gives nod to gravel pit, restoration

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – Town officials cleared the way Tuesday for the reopening of a gravel pit on Branch Road just off State 23.

The Town Board approved rezoning and a conditional use permit for property owned by Randall and Stacy Bermke at W6255 Branch Road, while the Board of Adjustments approved a variance for excavation stockpiles closer to the lot line than allowed under state code.

The permit for gravel excavation was granted to Buteyn-Peterson Construction Co., which will be providing gravel for the planned State 23 expansion project over the next several years.

Bermke presented detailed plans for the 17.15-acre parcel for the mining operation and the required restoration of the property once the gravel pit is closed.

The rezoning is from the current C-2 upland conservancy to M-2 mineral gravel district, but Bermke assured the Zoning Commission that the rezoning would not be permanent.

“Once it is all said and done, we will rezone it back to C-2,” Bermke said. “We were looking at around the five to seven year range (for mining and restoration), but it could go quicker, depending on how much business Buteyn-Peterson has.”

His plans call for restoration of the grades throughout the parcel, which currently contains an abandoned gravel pit. The southern portion would be restored to grades suitable for farming and tilling, while the remainder would be restored for recreational use around an existing freestanding pond.

Mining operations and subsequent restoration will be done in phases from one end of the property to the other, Bermke said. A temporary berm along the entire western length of the parcel, using topsoil that would eventually be used to restore the mined land, was part of his plan.

Bermke presented letters from all of his neighbors supporting his proposal. He added that he and his wife live on Branch Road on the northern end of the property. “I will probably be my own closest neighbor for the entire project,” he told the commission.

“Obviously, you’ve done your homework on it,” Zoning Commission Chair Rick Nick told Bermke.

“I think it’s a good idea that Randy’s doing this,” Supervisor Roger Rortvedt said of Bermke’s plans. “That land was left in rough shape.”

“In all my time on the board, I’ve never seen anything planned out this well,” Supervisor Gene Blindauer added.

“It’s been quite a while since we’ve had a gravel pit,” in the town, Town Attorney Jim Hughes commented. “There’s been concerns about dust (in the past), but the situation may be different here because the owner is going to be living on site.”

Hughes added that the maximum term for the conditional use permit for the gravel mining is two years, after which it will have to be renewed by the board. “The neighbors can have their say then,” he noted.

Mike Burkart led a group of residents of Ridge Road asking the board to expedite repaving the road on the south side of Crystal Lake.

“This is a road we’ve asked to have worked on for the last seven years and we’ve been denied,” Burkart told the supervisors.

“This is like a road you’d see in a third-world country,” he said, noting that it has numerous potholes and the pavement is severely deteriorated along the shoulders.

Board members sympathized with the residents, but noted that their road budget is limited. Town Chairman Warren Luedke pointed out that the state road aid the town has received for this year is designated for repaving Oak Road.

The board did agree to put the repaving on their agenda when drawing up next year’s budget and to see if the potholes can be patched this summer as a temporary fix.

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