Despite assurances from a company representative, the Sun Prairie Plan Commission voted Sept. 8 to recommend denial of a proposed quarry along Highway C in the Village of Windsor.
However, because the city holds no veto authority over the proposed quarry development in a neighboring municipality, any final action taken on the recommendation by the Sun Prairie City Council Sept. 15 could be disregarded by the Windsor Village Board during its final approval deliberations.
Tri-County Paving, Inc, is applying for approval of a re-zoning request and nonmetallic mining license to operate a quarry on the west side of Highway C approximately 2.5 miles north of Highway 19 (Windsor Street) on the Steve and Kay Hoffman Farm in the Village of Windsor. The proposed quarry would be approximately 84 acres in size and accessed via one ingress/egress drive on the west side of C.
“Depending on market conditions, the quarry would operate until 2080, with reclamation taking place shortly thereafter,” City Planning Director Tim Semmann wrote in his staff report.
If given final approval by the Windsor Village Board, the quarry would operate Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. Operations would include on-site blasting to loosen the material, crushing the aggregate into different sizes, and hauling the material from the quarry site. A well will be installed on-site to supply water for dust control. According to the application materials, water use would be approximately 2,000-2,500 gallons per day and contained within the quarry. The number of trucks and the direction of travel would be based on project location and the degree to which jobs are competitively bid. The operator estimates 200,000 tons/year to be sold and approximately 70% of trips will travel south on C (140,000 tons or 6,512 loads) over 200 working days per year, which averages 32 loads per day.
Because the majority of Sun Prairie’s work is south of the Windsor/Grand Avenue intersection, the applicant anticipates 50% (16 loads/day) would go south from that point, and 25% (8 loads/day) will go west, and 25% (8 loads/day) will go east, according to Semmann’s report.
Blasting of material would occur approximately six to eight times per year (depending on market conditions) on weekdays between 8 a.m – 2 p.m. All residences within one mile and those who request to be notified will be contacted 24 hours in advance of a blast.
The requested re-zoning and nonmetallic mining license is under the jurisdiction of the Village of Windsor.
“However, the Village of Windsor and City of Sun Prairie have enjoyed a good relationship over the years, as is evidenced by past cooperative plans,” Semmann wrote.
Windsor’s non-metallic mining ordinance states that if the processing facility or mining operation site is within three miles of the jurisdictional boundary of the City of Sun Prairie, the Village Board shall not complete its final review without giving the City of Sun Prairie at least 45 days to review and comment on the application.
Written comments from the City of Sun Prairie shall be considered by village staff and consultants, and shall be included in the summary report prepared for the Village Board, according to the ordinance.
The city received 22 comments before the meeting, all of them opposed to the mine, with one public comment from a representative of Tri-County Paving in favor.
“Our household is against the proposed quarry. We want the proposal to be denied, and we do not want the proposal to occur yet again in the future,” wrote Julie Durnen, a Sunny Wood Drive resident in rural DeForest. “The large increase in truck traffic will be dangerous, will throw rocks off of trucks and will ruin the roads. We do most of our shopping and work in Sun Prairie so we drive on Hwy C and Hwy 19 all the time. The blasting will harm our house and harm the Token Creek Watershed and lower property values in the entire area.”
“I would like to voice my strong opposition to the proposed quarry in Windsor. The impact to land values, damage to private structures and public infrastructure (roads), potential damage to the Token Creek watershed and drinking [water] far out weigh the value of the proposed query in the present location,” wrote Eric Schmuck, a Pfeil Bend resident of Sun Prairie.
“I oppose this for many reasons. Some reasons are the increased trucks that will travel on hwy 19, explosions/noise pollution, declining property values, and the impacts on the Token Creek watershed. The plan is this quarry will be mining for the next 80 years. I am worried what neighborhoods and water quality my great grandchildren will inherit,” wrote Blaser Court resident Anna McCabe of Sun Prairie.
“I am not in favor of having a quarry in my back yard for many reasons namely blasting, noise, increased traffic, dust, potential groundwater issues, decreased value of homes in the neighborhood,” wrote Windsor resident Lisa Hiebing.
“While the quarry does not lie within the city of Sun Prairie, I would express concern over the number of trucks that will be driving on Hwy. C and increased traffic on Hwy. 19 past many city residences,” wrote Lyman’s Run resident Mary Beth Olsen. “I also question the impact this will have on the Hwy C/19 intersection once the new high school is also contributing to traffic in that area. The impact on the Token Creek watershed is also troubling and could impact residences nearby.”
The traffic impact was raised by Semmann in his report.
“The operation is projected to last approximately 60 years and possibly longer depending on market demand for the product. Increasing the volume of heavy vehicles associated with the quarry would shorten the lifespan of certain segments of the city’s street network, leading to needed maintenance and associated cost sooner than anticipated,” Semmann wrote.
“This area of the City, and Grand Avenue in particular, is expected to see an increase in traffic volume as the corridor builds out, and the second high school opens. The natural increase in area traffic due to development on the west side of Sun Prairie and the growing areas of DeForest, Waunakee and the east side of Madison may lead to increasing crash incidences as vehicles compete with the increased volume of heavy truck traffic,” Semmann added.
The city planning director also wrote he was concerned Windsor may impose restrictions on some western routes due to concerns about the long term maintenance of village roadways.
“If such restrictions are imposed, it could have the effect of diverting trips that could otherwise use these routes through Sun Prairie. If the Village intends to approve this application, staff feels that it is important that one or more western routes leading from the quarry to USH 51 and potential development sites in and around DeForest and Windsor be identified as a truck route, so that such trips are not diverted through Sun Prairie unnecessarily,” Semmann wrote in the report.
Citing negative outcomes more than positive ones, District 1 Alder Steve Stocker made a motion to recommend denial of the quarry application in Windsor.
Stocker cited concerns about air quality, the use of city streets that could cause the recently reconstructed Highway C to break down faster, and the impacts blasting will have on Sun Prairie properties within the one mile radius of the quarry’s blasting area.
Stocker said he used to live two miles away from a quarry and recalled feeling blasting when it occurred.
“Sixteen loads a day seems like a lot, especially with a new high school going in,” remarked commissioner Kevin Wait. He said that there will likely be more traffic on Ironwood Drive as well because of the new school. He said there was likely a better place for the quarry operation than this one.
But in a letter to the city, Dustin Gradel of Tri-County Paving said the company will only be using county and state roads for travel unless delivering material for city building or road projects.
The company will ask customers to use tarps on trucks to keep the dust down, but sought an exception.
“However not every customer has tarps, including some Village trucks,” Gradel wrote. “We would have to turn them away. Reality is they will drive farther to get the gravel and not use tarps while driving through the Village and City limits. The state and county does not require tarps, our competitors do not require tarps, we would be the only quarry forced to do it. We have decided this is not a deal breaker for us, we would agree to it, even though it limits our customers and sales.”
The company also uses an air quality monitoring system — the only quarry in the county — and would implement the same system at its Windsor quarry. The monitor sounds an alarm when the air quality reaches a limit and all activity stops, Gradel said.
Mayor Paul Esser confessed to being torn about the issue. On the one hand, the city does a lot of construction and building projects and should be ready to accept a quarry because of the need for those materials. However, many city residents are being impacted by the quarry and its blasting.
“I’m struggling with this one,” Esser said.
“I understand the need for aggregate but it’s not like you can’t get it elsewhere,” remarked an Egre Road resident identifying himself as Dan who spoke during the Zoom meeting under public comments.
“What I found with this and with our traffic study is our biggest customer will be the City of Sun Prairie,” Gradel told the commission.
Commissioners voted 5-1, with three commissioners absent and Esser voting no, to approve Stocker’s motion to recommend denial to the council.