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Concrete firm proposes quarry in Spring Lake

TOWN OF SPRING LAKE --- County Concrete has proposed developing a new quarry in the Town of Spring Lake.

The proposal, which calls for eventually altering 129 acres over two parcels of property, was discussed by town board members and a large group of residents who voiced concerns Tuesday. Another meeting on the plan is expected before the board makes a recommendation to the county.

"Since the town has adopted the county zoning ordinance, the county has the final decision," Supervisor Dwight Johnson said Thursday, indicating the town board doesn't vote on the permit, but recommends either approval or denial.

Geologist Jim Small of County Concrete explained the company is seeking a conditional use permit for non-metallic mining at the site, along Hwy. 128 southeast of Spring Valley. The firm makes concrete products from aggregate, requiring the best quality rock available. Finding suitable locations to do the mining is difficult, Small said.

The company has an option to buy approximately 200 acres in two parcels, he said. Between 30 and 50 acres will be open at any given time during the mining process, with reclamation work following behind. The area being left is sloped back and seeded.

Small estimated it would take more than 40 years to completely mine the 129 acres targeted for altering. The permit being sought here is renewable every two years, he said. Therefore, it behooves the firm to be "good neighbors."

Among the concerns he said he's heard are noise generated by the crushing equipment. This equipment would initially be situated behind a berm to reduce such noise and moved as soon as possible to the floor of the quarry. Blasting would be necessary, but he said such activity and noise go on at other approved sites with little public awareness.

Significantly fewer people live in the vicinity of the proposed quarry site than elsewhere in the area, the geologist said. Access to the highway is an advantage of the location for the company, as is close proximity to its manufacturing facility in Roberts.

Company officials had met twice with the town board about the proposal as of last week, Small said, and although the members appear to be divided as to whether it will be approved, he was optimistic. The firm would like to begin developing the quarry this year, but will need to secure permits from the Department of Natural Resources, too, besides getting approvals from the town and county.

Johnson said concerns expressed by the public Tuesday ranged from the quarry's effect on water quality to its potential interference with lights at night (he understood it would be allowed to operate during daylight hours only, if it succeeds). Town board members will need to provide the county with legitimate reasons for whether they approve or deny and can interject some reasonable conditions if the go-ahead is given.

Another meeting on the project will probably be held within the next month, depending on the availability of board members, Johnson thought.