Rhine faces possible litigation over stop work order

Board hears continuing concerns over proposed mine expansion in neighboring township
by Sabrina Nucciarone
Review Correspondent

RHINE - The last item of business at the Town Board meeting Sept. 4 may turn out to be an ongoing agenda item as it was announced the Waibels of Elkhart Lake have hired Rezmy Bitar, a litigation attorney with Municipal Law & Litigation Group, S.C., in Waukesha. The town was served with a summons demanding that the stop work order that was approved at the July meeting be lifted.

Since the stop work order was put into place by the board for an alteration of a permit intended to renovate not rebuild an existing garage on their property, this is the first contact the board has had from anyone involved with the Waibel’s building project.

The lawsuit, which will extend the project even further, will be represented by a different attorney and a different firm for the town of Rhine, not Paul Dirkse of Hopp, Neumann, Humke, LLP, of Sheboygan, because Dirkse may be called to testify in the proceedings, according to Chairman Ron Platz.

“If there is any good news, the board took action. They wouldn’t be suing us otherwise,” Platz said.

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Another item of business that may prove lengthy was brought up during public comments. Pam Egelsaar of Little Elkhart Lake Road expressed several points of concern regarding the proposed Aggrecon expansion project. Aggrecon is in the town of Schleswig in Calumet County but shares a border with the town of Rhine and many town residents are opposed to the expansion. “There is a lot of concern from neighbors in the town of Rhine,” Egelsaar said.

Egelsaar requested that the town write a letter to all government entities concerned to present the issues that would be detrimental to the residents and well as the environment in the immediate area. Listing the immediate concerns, she mentioned property damage, well and foundation damage due to blasting as well as the constant noise from trucks coming and going, and sand and grit particulate plugging the residential house gutters.

There was another item Egelsaar cited. “Who knows what we are all breathing in,” she said.

With those items listed, Egelsaar said that someone from Aggrecon said they would spray the mountains of sand particulate “with what amounts to the equivalent of table salt. The effect downstream will be that the whole river will be polluted,” she said. It is the Sheboygan River that runs nearby.

Egelsaar said she researched what can be done and at the very least town of Rhine has nuisance laws in place. Though Aggrecon is not in the town of Rhine and does not fall in the jurisdiction of the municipality, she impressed upon the board the need to discuss the issue.

Given that there are three entities the board would unanimously correspond with, it was the consensus that a letter will be drawn up.

“Whatever we can do to prevent this,” Supervisor Bill Jacob said.

“This directly effects the citizens of town of Rhine,” Supervisor Jon Rost said.

Since the decision-making process has other levels in the town of Schleswig, the intent for the town of Rhine to draft and send correspondence to the equivalent bodies of the planning commission of the town of Schleswig, the Schleswig Town Board, and the Manitowoc County Board of Adjustment — which has approval authority over final permits and/or plans — was approved unanimously.

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Randy Boeldt was present on behalf of Elkhart Lake Improvement Association (ELIA) to request that the board to consider raising their donation to the group to $1,500 in 2019 from the present $,1000. Not to be confused with the Little Elkhart Lake Rehabilitation District, ELIA is the group behind the Keep Elkhart Blue logo.

Along with sales of items with the logo and 180 family memberships that help support the health of the lake with water patrols and buoys, additional monies would help invasive weed abatement. The group also does regular water testing.

Describing an advanced form of abatement, Boeldt said divers would use a suction machine that pulls the weeds, roots and all. “Rather than chemically treating weeds, which ultimately promotes more growth,” Boeldt said, suctioning would help eliminate more and be better for the environment of the lake.

Though there are numerous people who volunteer their time with ELIA, “we want to be completely transparent with you. Our budget shows everything we do. We are operating in a deficit. We continue to search for funding,” Boeldt said. Some funding does come by way of donations and grants.

Since the 2019 budget has not been completed, the request was taken under advisement by the board.

Resident Paul Boocher, of the Little Elkhart Lake Rehabilitation District, suggested to Boeldt that ELIA should form a rehabilitation district. Operating as “a quasi-government body ... would give you more power and tax dollars where all people would pay to assess and help lake maintenance,” Boocher said.

“I appreciate your suggestion,” Platz said of Boocher’s interjection. “It would be another revenue stream if they choose to go that route.”

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