Plan Commission OKs changes on former quarry properties

By JOE VANDELAARSCHOT - Daily News

March 6, 2015

RICHFIELD — Much of the same opposition was heard when the Plan Commission on Thursday night approved a petition from the Village Board to rezone several properties to allow country estates development.

All of the properties are the former site of a sand and gravel pit that was mined in the 1960s and ’70s when it was closed.

The board sought to have the zoning changed from M-5 Mineral Extraction District to Rs-1 Country Estates and Rs-1R, Country Estates/ Remnant Parcel District to have the possible use of the property fit in with the several residential properties that surround the land.

Village residents Tom and Danah Zoulek want to purchase the property and have thousands of truckloads of fill dumped at the former pit location to raise the bottom to a height that will better allow residential property development. Last month, the Village Board approved changing the land use designation for the property on the village’s comprehensive land use map. They then petitioned the Plan Commission to have the zoning changed for the properties to conform to the map changes.

Opponents of the plan hope both decisions will prevent the couple from bringing in fill to develop the property. Some of the same reasons for opposing their plan were expressed again at Thursday’s meeting.

“The Village Board (last month) said it best when they stated there were pros and cons to the Zouleks’ proposal, but the cons far outweigh the pros,” Scenic Road property owner Paul Craig said.

Fellow Scenic Drive property owner Doug Felton agreed.

“At last month’s meeting, we heard from residents about protecting the ground water quality and not allowing fill to be brought into the site,” Felton said. “Do we want to pay for sewer and water (service) if the ground water were to become contaminated due to fill being brought in? (The commission needs) to keep fighting the good fight for your constituents and not let that happen.”

The Zouleks said they believe, despite the village’s opposition, they can still find a way still make the property into a site for the dumping of fill.

“Your zoning changes won’t stop us from what we want to do,” said Jim McIlany, attorney for the Zouleks. “Ultimately it’s the goal of my clients to reclaim the property and their goal was R-1 zoning. They’re concerned about the misinformation the public has been receiving and the public’s misunderstanding of what they want to do. They’re not proposing to mine the property; they’re proposing to fill it.”

McIlany said his clients will attempt to have the site designated as a legal fill deposit site to take fill and materials removed from area construction projects which would not need village approval, only state approval, to become a reality. He also mentioned the possibility of mediation or arbitration.

Current property owners, the Hoelz family, spoke out. A letter from them was read into the record. In it they expressed opposition to the proposed zoning changes and accused village officials of tying their hands in what they would allow to occur on the land so the family could sell it. They also accused village officials of rejecting any plans for development that would have provided a viable easement onto the property.

The Village Board must give final approval to the zoning changes. The only commissioner who voted against the changes was Donald Berghammer.

>>EARLIER: Conflict over quarry not over yet


>>EARLIER: Village Board nixes possible development of former quarry