GEORGETOWN — The Town of Smelser Planning Commission is working on an ordinance to address health and safety concerns near a quarry that is being revived.
Another issue with the quarry is the rapid deterioration of the roads with increased heavy traffic to and from the quarry.
At Thursday’s Town Board meeting, several people in the audience used the public comment portion of the meeting to oppose heavy traffic on their roads, especially Rock Road. They sited the location of a daycare, people who use the road for recreational purposes, and the already deteriorating condition of the road.
The next meeting to make recommendations for the metallic and non-metallic mining ordinance for the town will be held at the Smelser Town Hall in Georgetown Thursday, April 18 at 7 p.m. The public is being invited to attend to provide input for the planning stages of the ordinance process.
The ordinance is being considered because a quarry on Loeffelholz Road has become active again, potentially bringing heavy truck traffic to the area.
At the town board’s February meeting, the board put a six-month moratorium on metallic and non-metallic mining within the town to allow the board to investigate the effects of mining on the community and allow the public to comment.
The board set the fine for violating the moratorium at $100 per day. At their March meeting they increased the fine to $350 per day.
Ron Yager, who pursued the operation of the quarry, planned to start blasting in February, the week after the town’s meeting. He said he had state and county approval for the quarry.
In February, the board voted to designate many of the town’s roads as Class B highways, meaning vehicles with heavy loads — including dump trucks, milk trucks and manure haulers — would not be able to use those roads as shortcuts. Any vehicles exceeding the weight limits would need to seek permission from the town board before using the road.
Town Chairman Pat Klar said road repairs are the single largest expense for the town.
“Knowing the amount of damage that happens over a certain stretch of road because of heavy loads, the state … gives towns the ability to make a route a quarry has to use and we [the town board] can make them be bonded to help pay for the damage or the upkeep of the road,” said Klar at the February meeting.
On Thursday, Klar said the Planning Commission has been looking at the blasting affecting wells, hours of operation and the potential of heavy traffic in their community.
“They have to run a business, too,” said Klar. “We’re trying to be as fair as we possibly can with all that we’re doing, but we know we have a responsibility to the town.”
“I just want to make this clear that it is not the planning commission’s purpose to shut this down,” said Town Clerk Kim Kieler. “It will impact some people more than others.”