Town chair criticizes county’s actions
As Little Wolf town chairman, I feel it is important to inform the residents of Waupaca County and Little Wolf what your county government has allowed and encouraged at the Theil Pit, located on Baldwin Road.
By Wisconsin law, an operator of a pit is required to have a reclamation plan and permit. The Waupaca County Highway Department has a permit for the Theil Pit. However, the reclamation plan called for mining to have ceased in 2007 and reclamation begun.
The plan also states that mined aggregates would only be used for county projects.
In 2011, with county knowledge and approval, the landowners of the Theil Pit entered into a lease with a private company, American Asphalt, to mine the pit for its own purposes. Since then, American Asphalt has been the almost exclusive operator of the Theil Pit.
American Asphalt does not have a permit to operate in this pit. Furthermore, mining has gone way beyond the geographic bounds of the highway department’s reclamation plan. And rather than reclamation of the pit being completed by this point, the pit is larger than ever and being operated for private profit, with aggregates being delivered all over Wisconsin.
Truck traffic has increased dramatically, causing congestion and stress on our small town roads. Town residents have repeatedly expressed safety concerns regarding the traffic and speed of the trucks, as well as the hours of, and noise from, the pit’s operations.
Often when the hot-mix plant at the pit is running its fumes affect the neighbors and local residents around Bear Lake.
In addition to a reclamation plan and permit, Waupaca County passed a non-metallic mining ordinance in 2015, requiring pit operators to have a conditional use permit. The CUP process allows the county and town residents to have a say regarding operations at a pit. Despite American Asphalt having no legal right to operate in the Theil Pit in the first place, the Waupaca County zoning director determined that neither the highway department nor American Asphalt needed a conditional use permit because their operations at the pit preceded the ordinance.
The Planning and Zoning Committee, at the request of the director, affirmed this decision at a meeting on Jan. 7, 2016. Despite requests, no members of the public were allowed to address the committee at this meeting.
On Feb. 3, the Town of Little Wolf filed an appeal to the Board of Adjustment. Operations at the Theil Pit cannot be “grandfathered” and protected from the CUP process when they are violating the law in the first place.
Over three months have passed since our filing, and the county has not scheduled a hearing on our appeal and provided no satisfactory reasons for the delay.
Waupaca County has the duty to regulate operations at the Theil Pit, including barring companies from operating without the permits required by law.
It has failed to do so, at the expense of the safety, health and welfare of Waupaca County and Little Wolf residents.