Rock County group postpones town of Milton gravel pit decision ... again

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Jake Magee
June 25, 2015

JANESVILLE—A bout of confusion and uncertainty surrounding the county's jurisdiction resulted in the county again postponing a vote on a controversial gravel pit planned for the town of Milton.

About half of the proposed mine falls within 1,000 feet of a wetland, a shoreland district the county has jurisdiction over. The question is whether the Rock County Board of Adjustment's decision to approve or deny a permit for the pit would affect the remainder of the site that falls under the town's rules.

Attorney Andrew Phillips, representing the board, believes the board's decision would affect only the portion of the mine within the shoreland zone. If the board denied the permit, Dodge Concrete, the entity vying for the permit, would still be able to establish about half of the proposed pit as it falls outside the shoreland district, and the town of Milton has already approved that, he said.

Still, Phillips recommended postponing voting and reopening a public hearing on the matter to make sure there are no concerns about the law. The board unanimously approved the decision.

“This is an unusual case because you're dealing with the use of a piece of property within the shoreland zone,” Phillips said.

“I want to find out if there is a legal argument that is contrary to what my opinion might be,” he said. “It's my job to make sure there's no lawsuit.”

The board passed a motion early in the meeting allowing for a bridge over Otter Creek under the condition the driveway to County N is moved farther north to minimize impact to the shoreland district. Operators would use the bridge to transport gravel and equipment to and from the pit.

But things quickly became confusing for board members as motions were made and swept off the floor. Members contradicted their own motions and accidentally voted in opposition to what they wanted concerning the approval or denial of the gravel mine permit.

Phillips called for a recess to gather his thoughts before suggesting the board postpone its vote.

The board's actions confused audience members, as well. Linda Schalk, spokeswoman for the neighbors opposed to the pit, doesn't know what to expect during the board's next meeting.

“I'm not a woman easily confused, and I'm very confused,” she said.

The Milton Town Board approved the gravel pit with 31 conditions in March 2013. Because a portion of the pit fell within a shoreland district, the decision then fell to the Rock County Planning & Development Committee.

The committee decided in April to approve the gravel pit with an additional 15 conditions. Neighbors along Klug Road near where the mine is planned appealed the committee's decision, which is when it went to the board of adjustment. The board postponed its decision in May after a lengthy public hearing.

The board will hopefully have a final vote on the matter during a regular meeting set for 6 p.m. July 29 at the courthouse, Phillips said.

“As much as I like all of you,” he said to the board, “I want to get this done.”

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