Representatives of Tri-County Paving attempted to make their case for opening a new mine before the Windsor Village Board on Thursday, Sept. 3.
Terry Wenger, president of the company, started out by emphasizing the quarry will bring new jobs to the area.
“We do create a lot of employment,” said Wenger, who explained that it could create up to 20 new jobs in such areas as truck driving and paving and grading crews, along with the two to three employees it would add to work at the quarry.
Wenger said they are good-paying jobs, as well.
Tri-County Paving is seeking rezoning for the property, which is currently zoned exclusively as an agricultural district, to a nonmetallic mining operation district and applying for a mining operator’s license.
No action was taken at Thursday’s board meeting. Next, the Plan Commission is expected to make a recommendation to the Village Board on the rezone application at its Oct. 8 meeting. The deadline for such a recommendation is Oct. 11.
Schedule, site, mining operations
On Nov. 5, the village board is slated to hold a public hearing on the rezoning measure and the mining operator’s license, although no action will be taken. That will come Nov. 15 when the Village Board meets to decide on the rezoning and the mining operator’s license.
Village President Bob Wipperfurth did ask staff if that schedule could be shortened somehow. Staff is looking into that this week.
The property consists of a 240.9-acre parcel, which currently contains residences, detached accessory structures and agricultural structures. Home to native wildlife, plant life, an intermittent stream to the west and wetlands to the southeast. It also includes croplands for soybeans, wheat, corn, oats and alfalfa.
Known as the Hoffman Farm property, the site has been targeted for mining proposals in the past. The last time was 2015.
With 156 acres of buffer area, the actual mining site is 84.3 acres in size and accessible from Highway C, around a quarter mile south of Vinburn Road. The plan is to open it in five phases involving 14 to 20 acres at a time. Each phase would have to be approved by the village.
Tri-County Paving wants to open the quarry to make aggregate material. There would be no concrete or asphalt plant on site. Instead, the company intends to blast to remove limestone from mining site walls and then crush the limestone into aggregate mineral products, which would be sold and hauled from the mining site.
Drilling, blasting, crushing and screening operations will take place six to eight times per year. An estimated 200,000 tons of aggregate mineral product is expected to be produced annually, potentially adding up to 20 million tons of the material over the life of the mining site. The anticipated duration of the mining site operation is through the year 2080 depending on the economic market.
Case for and against
The proposed mine is facing strong opposition from neighbors and residents. Around 80 pieces of correspondence were included in the village board packet, with a great majority of them voicing their objections. Village staff has been collecting public comments in recent weeks.
Jamie Rybarczyk, the village’s deputy administrator and director of economic development, said most of the concerns were related to the impact on property values; increased truck traffic on area roads and road safety; groundwater contamination and the potential for a negative impact to the Token Creek Watershed, as well as nearby wells; light, noise and dust; preserving the area’s agricultural heritage; and notifications about the proposal.
Doubts have also been cast over the mining operation’s plans for eventually reclaiming the land and restoring it as farmland. Wenger wanted to lay those fears to rest.
“We want to put the land back in better condition than it is today,” said Wenger.
Wipperfurth said the issue has been “creating a lot of anxiety in the village.” The Plan Commission held a public hearing on the rezone application only on Aug. 13.
Tri-County Paving representatives attempted to allay the fears of opponents with a lengthy presentation at the Sept. 3 meeting.
With regard to increased truck traffic, it was noted, “Truck haul routes will be prohibited on village roads unless there is a building or road project located on village roads,” according to a Village of Windsor Staff Report.
Wenger also said that truck traffic is already increasing on area roads, even without the mine. With the close proximity of the quarry to road projects, Wenger said that would result in less truck traffic, less emissions, less chances for accidents and less fuel use.
Wenger said, “The quarry is in the right spot.” He added that 80% of the truck traffic will go south of the village, with the remainder going north to a plant near Arlington.
The mining operation would use Highway C as the north/south truck haul route and Highway V or 19 as the east/west route. Tri-County Paving hired KL Engineering to do a preliminary traffic volume and site condition study. It concluded that “there would be no adverse effect to the bordering parcels,” according to the staff report.
Wenger also explained that Tri-County Paving’s proposal called for a “lower level of activity than previous applicants” involving truck traffic. The company is also asking for a special exemption from rules stipulating that all trucks hauling aggregate material must use secured tarps. While the company intends to require those trucks to use secured tarps if they are equipped with them, as Tri-County equipment is, some of its customers do not have trucks equipped with secured tarps.
Annually, it is anticipated that the site would produce 9,302 truckloads of aggregate mineral product, resulting in an average of 47 truckloads per day, based on a schedule of 200 working days per year. The peak season for the mining operation is March to November.
Wenger also argued the quarry could save Windsor money in costs for road work and make tax dollars go farther. For example, he explained how the cost savings of having a quarry nearby would mean that instead of doing one mile of road for a hypothetical project, it could do two miles.
Wenger said Tri-County Paving wants to be a good neighbor.
“I think we’re somebody you could work with and we can get along together,” said Wenger.
Wenger also said the company would go over concerns expressed by the public and determine how Tri-County could do things differently to prevent problems from occurring.
Tri-County addressed a number of other issues, indicating that noise levels will be monitored by KL Engineering and reported to the village on a schedule “not less than on a quarterly basis,” according to the staff report. Measured at bordering parcels, noise levels shall not exceed 60 decibels, and sounds should be screened by the area of the site and earth berm.
A well will be installed to supply water to crushes and travel ways to control dust. All water will be contained in the mining site area to eliminate waste water. Meanwhile, all lighting will be limited to the equipment for security, operation and work safety, and will be directed downward and screened from view.
Water quality concerns have been expressed. Tri-County Paving contracted with Stantec Consulting Services to perform a preliminary hydrogeologic study of the mining site and surrounding parcels. It indicated high lead concentrations, with the presence of lead pipe or solder in plumbing lines or fixtures to blame. Also, high nitrate concentrations were found, resulting from nitrogen fertilizers, manure and/or septic systems.
The company maintains that it will not wash aggregate mineral product, so it would not produce much waste material.
A blasting expert also downplayed how loud the blasting would be and how impactful it would be to neighboring properties, as the operation expects to use formulas to keep ground vibration to a minimum.
Furthermore, Tri-County Paving representatives offered Mile Road Quarry as an example of how a quarry can coexist with its neighbors.
An appraiser who spoke at the meeting noted that a lot of upscale development had taken place in the immediate area. He also explained how nine home sales in that area had gone for 97 percent of the asking price, with five of them being bid up over those asking prices, indicating that it was a strong market.
Still, some Windsor officials are concerned about the proposed quarry.
“A lot of it is that there are unknowns and that worries me,” said Trustee Bruce Stravinski.