Janesville50.3°

Town of Milton accepting questions on gravel pit study through Feb. 5

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Neil Johnson
January 30, 2013

— After a year of controversy, political wrangling and some indecision, the Milton Town Board could be ready to decide if it will allow developer Tom Amon to build a gravel pit along North Klug Road.

The town has released results of an independent consultant's study of potential effects from the 137-acre gravel pit Elkhorn-based Amon & Sons and landowner Scott Traynor seek to develop on a glacial hillside next to state wetlands and dozens of residences.

On Feb. 11, the board and the town's planning and zoning committee will hear a full presentation of the study conducted by hydrologists Montgomery Associates and environmental consultants Taylor Conservation and Environmental Engineering and Compliance.

Committee members commissioned the study late last year and ordered Amon & Sons to pay for the work.

The study is seen as the final step before the town decides whether or not to approve a conditional-use permit for the project.

A review of the report shows consultants found no major environmental red flags during a field analysis that probed the proposed site's potential impact on nearby wildlife, habitat and runoff from the pit into adjacent wetlands.

Among the findings from the report:

-- A gravel pit east of Klug Road likey would increase water and sediment runoff from the gravel pit hillside into Storr's Lake Wildlife Area, a state protected wetland a few hundred feet to the east. However, impact to wetlands would be "minor" compared to runoff the wetland already receives from nearby farm fields, according to the report.

n Noise would be negligible, and dust from the gravel pit should not threaten nearby crops and an upstart vineyard along Klug Road, provided developers follow DNR guidelines for dust and noise abatement.

-- A gravel pit would alter habitat for birds and mammals that inhabit adjacent wetlands and oak woods Amon would remove from the proposed site. The study concludes that could lead to animals moving out of the area, although consultants suggest there are enough forested areas nearby to provide an alternate habitat.

The town clerk's office is accepting written questions and responses relating to the report through Feb. 5.

Planning and zoning committee Chairwoman Marion Trescher said residents can view the report on the town's website, townofmiltonrc.com, or pick up a copy at Town Hall, 23 First St.

In the past year, dozens of neighbors along Klug Road have banded together, sparking a grassroots effort to block the pit project. The group cites environmental concerns and fears about potential loss of property value.

The pit would supply gravel for local road projects, Amon said.

The town initially denied a permit early last year but later threw out a township wetland zoning designation, erasing a major hurdle for the project.

Even if the town board approves the plan, Amon would need a slew of state and Rock County permits before his company could break ground.

The consultant's report suggests Rock County has the power to require Amon to agree to return the pit area to woods or grassland instead of the farmland he has proposed.



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