Jon Halverson, the owner of Oak Park Quarry, has again asked for going beyond the blasting limits, this time for test blasts, on the September, October and November Deerfield Township meeting agenda. Very few issues have been resolved or questions answered in a positive way to the satisfaction of the community regarding damage to properties, cemeteries, water systems and historic sites that in some cases can’t be repaired or replaced.
All the homes surrounding this quarry have been well established before Mr. Halverson bought the property from the Mandt family. All the damage has been reported after Mr. Halverson started operating.
It is the new owner’s responsibility to check out the surrounding structures before buying, and also considering his intended use and how it will impact the neighbors.
Mr. Halverson has claimed at meetings “the age of the homes is a factor” and “they knew they were buying near a quarry.” Fact: the kind of damage the owners are seeing is not normal wear and tear. And they were told the quarry had been mined out.
His best answer to the church damage is “the church should buy more insurance” and he wants “them to pay for it”. Wrong again. The church has been there before all of us were born, more than 163 years old. The cemetery on Liberty Street and the well for watering flowers is affiliated with Deerfield Lutheran Church.
The aquifer under the quarry flows east toward Deerfield village and two wells that supply our water, one on Liberty Street and one at the west end of Washburn behind the Pickle Tree. The Township and ordinance committee recognize damage up to one-quarter mile away from the quarry. Question: does that include the aquifer under the quarry that supplies water to wells outside the one-quarter mile? Our Village wells could become compromised considering the facts; septic tanks could leak from blasting into the aquifer that supplies our wells. I questioned the township board and their answer was “the Dennis Mandt property gets their septic tank checked every three years.” That is an extremely wimpy answer, considering the quarry blasts hard three or four times a week sometimes. Bedrock is likely fractured, allowing contamination to seep down. Monitoring the problem does not prevent, resolve or repair any of the issues that we have discussed, complained, wrote letters to the newspaper, packed the meeting room, shown pictures of damage, wrote petitions, almost always falling on deaf ears and unwilling to admit and deal with conflict of interest.
It is the duty of the government, both elected and appointed, to serve and protect the people. With mounting complaints, it is reasonable for people to ask questions and expect answers. Our water system is much more important than the township policy to not really answer questions at meetings. Who is responsible for the existing and likely future damamge of property, the roads, and my main concern - our water system? Heavy trucks pound the roads delivering rock products and create increased traffic and safety issues on Oak Park Road and the Highway 12 intersection.
Property values near the quarry are reduced because of the quarry. The Township receives less revenue. Mr. Halverson pays less tax at an agricultural rate but he is running an industrial operation on a temporary permit expiring in 2019.
I hope all of you will have a wonderful holiday season.