Support for quarry expansion mixed
Cedarburg Town Board tables measure that would allow move into county

By Laurie Arendt - News Graphic Staff

Jan. 9, 2018

 The proposed quarry expansion is located on the far western end of the town.
Map courtesy of the town of Cedarburg

CEDARBURG — With the seats filled and residents lining the walls, the Cedarburg Town Board last week listened to divided input during a public hearing on requests that would ultimately allow the Dawson Family Trust to expand the Jackson Quarry into Ozaukee County.

“What we are asking to do is to rezone the land we own in the town of Cedarburg, which will eventually expand the quarry about 550 feet,” said Hans Dawson, a third-generation owner of the Lannon Stone Quarry. “We are the only quarry operating in Washington County; currently there are no operating quarries in Ozaukee County.”

Dawson explained the economic impact his family’s company has, both for its workers and the area. The quarry provides between 25 and 30 full-time jobs with an annual salary of $75,000 to $100,000. About a third of the attendees at the town board meeting were employees in support of the expansion.

“But quarries also produce a heavy product, and by having a nearby quarry, we keep building costs low for roads and other municipal construction projects,” he said. “There is an economic need for a local quarry.”

Following his presentation, a number of town residents expressed concerns about the expansion, primarily over blasting and truck noise.

“It’s not fair to complain (about the quarry) as it was already here when a number of people purchased homes in the town,” said Town Board member Gary Wickert. “But I have heard that it is getting worse.”

Dawson noted that the work planned for the town site was long term, and that the only immediate work would be grading and berm construction.

“We would be looking quite a bit into the future in terms of actual quarry expansion,” he said.

“My house was built in 1878 and I moved there in 2005,” said Tim Hartley. “We didn’t have a lot of trouble when we moved there, but now I wake up most every morning to the sound of beep-beep-beep.”

“I wake up to beep-beep-beep and it’s there all day long,” said Janet Montgomery. “If you do this, I fear our house will no longer be a house we want to live in.”

Residents also took issue with the quarry’s blasting, though Dawson noted that his company has taken steps to minimize the intrusion to local residents and the impact the blast has on humans and structures.

Using a scientific chart, he explained that the frequency of the blast wave is kept at a point where it does no harm.

“A blast lasts about half a second, and we know that part of the issue is the surprise factor,” he said, noting that the quarry had scheduled blasts 27 times last year. “We maintain a call list and we do call ahead of time when we blast. I’m not going to say it’s not aggravating, but it is safe.”

The proposals before the Town Board are to rezone two parcels of property, 43.55 acres currently zoned prime agricultural and 22.61 acres zoned agricultural and conservancy, to a quarrying district and to change the town’s berm ordinance from a 1-foot slope to a 3-foot slope.

A handful of employees spoke in support of the proposal, noting that the company has been a good neighbor and employer in the Jackson community. Retired Ozaukee County Highway Commissioner Robert Dreblow also spoke in support of it.

“I fully appreciate the concerns,” he said. “But you do have the ability to tightly control this through your conditional use permit. This is a resource that needs to be utilized by everyone in the county.”

That point was also noted by former Town Supervisor Terry Skebba.

“Right now, the town of Cedarburg has virtually no control over Lannon Stone Products,” he said. “I urge the board to approve this to get some control; the only way to move forward and address some of the issues is by approving this.”

Skebba added that Dawson does have a history of willingness to work through concerns and has appeared before the town in the past when issues were raised.

“I think he is willing to work with us,” he said.

Skebba also addressed the concern that numerous residents brought up in regards to truck noise.

“The beep-beep-beep is when a truck backs up, and that’s required by federal law,” he said. “You can’t take that off the truck.”

After more than two-and-a-half hours of public comment, the Town Board decided to table both measures until the next meeting.

“I have some concerns about the protocol here,” said Wickert. “This was not discussed at Plan Commission, there are no findings of fact. I’m just bursting at the seams; I have questions, but no answers.”

Town Attorney Brad Hoeft also noted that the town had received a protest filing on the matter earlier in the day on Thursday, which he had not fully reviewed prior to the meeting.

As of Monday morning, the town was still reviewing the filing, which was filed by contiguous landowners to the property in question. Should it be determined that 20 percent of the contiguous landowners are protesting the rezoning, it must be passed by a super majority of supervisors (four of five). Should the protest be determined to be invalid, a simple majority of supervisors (three of five) can approve it.