Village Board nixes possible development of former quarry
About 100 attend hearing


Feb. 20, 2015

Tom Zoulek addresses the audience during a public hearing regarding proposed changes to the land use map Thursday at Richfield Village Hall.  
Joe VanDeLaarschot/Daily News  

RICHFIELD — A proposal to develop land where a sand and gravel pit formerly operated in the village received a severe blow Thursday night when the trustees voted unanimously to make changes in the village’s land use plan that would no longer allow quarry development there.

Tom and Danah Zoulek had proposed hauling thousands of truckloads of fill into the site to eliminate much of the severe slope in a large portion of the property that was created when materials were removed from the site in the 1960s during the quarry’s operation. The map changes and a change in the zoning for the property won’t allow the Zouleks to move ahead with their project.

“We want to bring an acceptable amount of fill to the site which would allow us to create two-six residential sites,” Tom Zoulek told the nearly 100 people at the hearing.

He said he wanted to provide correct information to bring to rest false information and rumors that had been circulating about their proposal.

“We will need 50,000 loads of fill brought in to eliminate the steep slopes,” Zoulek said. “That would mean 55 loads a day for about nine months.”

More than a dozen residents spoke in favor of the proposed map changes and against the Zouleks’ proposal.

“To bring in the amount of fill they’ll need will mean an enormous amount of truck traffic on roads the village just recently completed repairing,” resident Vern Kneppel said. “I think the water table there is only about 6 feet or more below the bottom of the pit and that could mean possible contamination of the village’s groundwater. It will be virtually impossible to be able to monitor the property so no contaminated fill is brought in. There are too many risks and not enough rewards for the village.”

Doug Felton said safety was his primary concern and why he opposed the Zouleks’ plan and wanted to see the map changes made.

“There will be constant dump truck traffic and there are kids and others that use the roads there and it will be an accident waiting to happen,” Felton said. “There’s no way you can guarantee 100 percent all the fill will be safe. We need to guarantee the safety of our ground water.”

Others spoke against the Zouleks’ proposal citing noise and pollution. Doug Cherhaver, who conducts regular tests of the village’s groundwater, said possible contamination is a possibility if fill were allowed to be brought to the site.

“Wells for the residential properties developed there would have to be driven through the fill that would be brought in,” Cherhaver said. “Drilling through fill that could be contaminated would cause possible pollution to water for the homes developed there.”

“Listen to the groundwater. Don’t put a Love Canal in our backyards,” village resident Paul Craig said of an environmental cleanup site in the 1970s in Niagra Falls, New York.

Village President John Jeffords said the land use map changes were needed and the proposal by the Zouleks provided too much of a risk to the village’s groundwater.

“We need to consider the risk versus the reward, but I’m very concerned about possible contamination,” Jeffords said. “I’m fearful that if we allowed this to happen, that something could happen and we could have a very serious problem that would require an expensive solution. We need to protect our shallow aquifer.”

The rest of the Village Board agreed and voted to have the proposed changes made in the land use map.

The board then agreed to hold a public hearing March 5 to move the process forward to have the zoning designation for the quarry property changed from M-5 Mineral Extraction District too Rs-1 Country Estates District and Rs-1R Country Estates/Remnant Parcel District. The change would not allow the Zoulek’s proposal to occur, but it would allow residential development on portions of the property where homes could still be built which are outside the gravel pit’s boundaries.