Wisconsin quarry owner forced to end blasting

Forever Sandfill and Limestone, which operates a quarry in the Town of Deerfield, Wisconsin, has no plans to renew its blasting license, say owner, Jon Halverson.

New mining and blasting ordinances adopted by the town board are too stringent to make mining there economically viable, he said.

“It is way more restrictive than makes sense, than what is necessary, and is impossible to comply with,” Halverson told the Cambridge News,

Halverson submitted an application to the town board in January for a new non-metallic mining operator’s license. Previously he also has a blasting license for the site.

His new operator’s license application follows several years in which Halverson has faced off nearby residents who said that blasting at the quarry caused structural damage and decreasing their property values.

Renewing just the operator’s license would allow Halverson to sell stone already extracted at the 17-acre site or materials like recycled asphalt that is hauled in.

Halverson hasn’t blasted at the site since being granted the operator’s and blasting licenses last year. Halverson said he gave up on the idea of seeking a blasting license in 2017 when several blasting companies he might have contracted with to work at the site declined the invitation, citing the town’s ordinances.

“Why should I pay for a permit that I cannot use?” Halverson said. “I’m just trying to haul away the inventory that is left in the quarry.”

Halverson acquired the property in 2010. With the purchase came a conditional use permit that Dane County had issued to former owner Vernon Mandt in 2009 to operate the quarry and to blast on the site. It is still valid, good until 2019.
Around 2014, complaints from surrounding property owners, that Halverson was violating his conditional use permit, began to intensify as blasting activity increased on the southern end of the quarry.

The town board adopted its new mining operator and blasting ordinances in 2015, and amended them in 2016, largely in response to those concerns. In 2016, Dane County considered revoking Halverson’s conditional use permit. However, the county’s Zoning and Land Regulation Committee voted 3-2 in June 2016 against that revocation. The committee was divided on whether blasting or other factors were causing damage at surrounding properties, including wall cracks at the 160-year-old church, shifting of headstones and crumbling mortar from its bell tower.

Halverson told the local newspaper he has no plans to appeal to the state Supreme Court a decision made by Dane County, and backed in circuit court and by the Wisconsin Court of Appeals in December 2016, that Oak Park Quarry should not be considered a “non-conforming use.” Had Halverson won that designation, he would not be not subject to a Dane County conditional use permit. He would still have to abide by the town ordinances.

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