CUP for former gravel pit to be audited by Richfield Plan Commission

By JOE VANDELAARSCHOT - Daily News

April 3, 2015

RICHFIELD — The Plan Commission on Thursday night unanimously agreed to conduct an audit of a conditional use permit that was granted to allow the operation in the 1960s and 1970s of a now-closed sand and gravel pit.

“Because there have been reports that the restoration of the property did not meet the standards of the CUP granted back then, a village ordinance allows the Plan Commission to decide if they should conduct an audit to determine if the required restoration was completed,” Village Administrator Jim Healy said.

The commission agreed to conduct the audit during a public hearing at the group’s meeting May 7.

The property, at 609 Scenic Road, is owned by Richard and Yvonne Holz. They have agreed to lease the property to Scenic Pit LLC, which is controlled by Danah Zoulek, to locate a solid waste fill site which Zoulek claims will only allow “clean fill” and no hazardous materials. Since Zoulek has been working with the Holzes on leasing the site the village has changed the zoning on the property which will no longer allow an operation like she is proposing.

During the arguments and testimony about the possible restoration of the site to allow residential development, the Holzes, Zoulek and her attorney have stated that the company that mined the in the 1960s and 1970s, Wissota Sand and Gravel, failed to live up to terms of the CUP they were granted to allow mining operation. The CUP called for specific requirements for the company to meet to properly restore the property.

Wissota Sand and Gravel President Chris Larson told the Daily News that as far as he can determine “the pit was restored to meet the requirements that were in place at that time.” Larson was not at Thursday night’s meeting.

“The lease was terminated in 1977, however, to our discovery, the restoration plan set forth in the CUP appears to not have been enforced nor completed,” said Richard Holz, whose father originally leased the property to the company.

Additionally, the village received an email from the legal counsel representing Scenic Pit LLC stating Zoulek also did not believe the site had been restored to the CUP’s specifications.

“The operator of the mine was subject to an agreement to reclaim the mine so the resulting slopes were no greater than three feet to one foot and properly landscaped,” said the attorney, Bruce McIlnay. “The operator of this mine breached this agreement and no unit of local government took action to enforce the agreement.”

According to village ordinance, after the commission conducts the audit and public hearing it could take action to rescind, alter or reaffirm the CUP.

Terms of the CUP also called for the then “town board, plan commission and the company to meet once a year to determine whether there had been compliance with the permit and for the planning of restoration for the coming year.”

The CUP also called for “all areas with respect to regrading and resurfacing with top soil are to be done annually so there will be a continual restoration of the area, except in the Holz property where restoration shall not be required to start until three years after exploitation has been commenced. Regraded areas shall be restored with top soil to a depth of at least four inches and reseeded and replanted with trees and shrubs.”

It will be up to the commission to decide if those requirements, and others in the CUP, were carried out as directed.