Gravel pit special exception goes back to Packwaukee Planning Committee

Kathleen McGwin

Over 60 citizens attended the Town of Packwaukee Special Meeting held on Monday, November 8 at the town hall.  The meeting was a discussion and vote on the special exception permit and re-zone application for a proposed sand and gravel pit and potential asphalt plant off County Road D in the Township of Packwaukee.

The Packwaukee Planning Committee had sent their recommendations to the Town Board.  At the planning meeting held on October 25, numerous citizens spoke against the project.  The planning committee voted no to amending the comprehensive plan for 15.5 acres to change from Farmland Preservation to General Industrial, no to rezoning the land from Agriculture 1 to commercial and yes to granting a special exception that would allow the gravel pit, but not the asphalt plant to go forward for a vote at the Town Board.  The special exception had 24 conditions attached to it. The vote on the special exception was six yes and one no, the no being cast by Judi Nigbor.

The Town Board then held their special meeting to vote on the recommendations.  Town Chair Lance Achterberg announced that all citizens would have a chance to voice their views for three minutes.  He asked for respectful discourse.  About 40 of the over 60 people at the special meeting stood up and spoke and all were against the recommendations.  At one point a citizen asked anyone who was there to support it to raise their hand.  None did so.  

The main concerns were noise, dust, wear on roads, traffic, effect on nature as well as the water table, negative effect on tourism, and effect on the environment.  One citizen pointed out that allowing the gravel pit would go against the town’s comprehensive plan that was approved in 2005.  Another described Packwaukee as “a little town of paradise” that would be lost with the dust, traffic and noise of the gravel pit.

Representatives from GZA Geo Environmental, Inc. were present to address some of the concerns.  They have been presenting information about the project as the approval process has moved through the system and have given formal presentations at past meetings.  Mark J. Krumenacher of GZA brought some statistics about gravel pits/ mines in Wisconsin.  He said that a third of the population live within 3 miles of a mine and a million within one mile of a mine with no major consequences like those brought up by citizens at the meeting. 

Al Rosenthal, County Board Supervisor District 11 which is in Packwaukee, spoke and said he was there to understand the feelings of the residents so that when the issues come to the county board, he can use that information to make a decision.  

Before the vote was taken on the issues, Town Supervisor Judi Nigbor recommended that the board send the special exception issue back to the planning committee because she discovered information in her research that should be heard by the committee so that they can consider another vote.  A motion was made, seconded and passed that supported the planning committee’s recommendation to deny a change in the comprehensive plan.  A motion was made and seconded and passed that the land not be rezoned to commercial.  A motion was made, seconded and passed that the special exception go back to the town planning committee for reconsideration.  

An announcement will be made as to the date of the next meeting regarding these issues.