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Falk Vetoes Rezoning for Ready Mix Concrete Plant in Town of Cross Plains

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Sharyn Wisniewski, 267-8823


Issued By: County Executive
View only releases from County Executive
Attached is the veto message Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk issued today regarding Zoning Petition #8402. This veto prohibits Wingra Stone Company from building a ready mix concrete batching plant on Stagecoach Road in the Town of Cross Plains.

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DATE: July 11, 2002

TO: Dane County Board of Supervisors

FROM: Kathleen M. Falk
Dane County Executive

RE: Veto of Zoning Petition #8402 (Wingra Stone Company et al./11 Acres/From the A-1 EX Exclusive Agricultural to the A-2(8) Agricultural)

Today (7/11/02) I have vetoed Zoning Petition #8402 in the Town of Cross Plains, which would permit Wingra Stone Company to rezone eleven acres from A-1EX to A-2 (8) in order to build a ready mix concrete batching plant. I vetoed the petition because the rezoning does not comply with the relevant standards as expressed in the Town of Cross Plains Land Use Plan, which is also the County’s land use plan for that area. Moreover, the complex land use and natural resource issues in the neighborhood of the proposed plant call for some renewed and careful planning before this or any other major development is approved for this area.

A ready mix concrete batching plant is clearly an example of a manufacturing, commercial facility. In arguing for the plant, its owners and advocates noted that the concrete produced at the plant will be used throughout the western part of the County, well beyond the boundaries of the Town of Cross Plains. The Town Plan sets standards for commercial development in two different provisions. In that part of the plan dealing with the Agricultural Preservation Area, the plan states:

“Only commercial uses clearly needed to support agricultural production may be permitted to rezone in designated agricultural preservation areas. Also small family owned and operated businesses that provide a service to the community may be permitted with any restriction deemed necessary by the Town Board.” (p. 6)

The Plan also has a subsection describing the commercial development to be allowed in the Town:

“Commercial Development

Must be adjacent to existing commercial development.

Must have direct access to a town road, county or state highway.

Will be limited to services for local residents and only the minimal area necessary for use will be rezoned.

Which requires sanitary sewer service will be directed to an urban service area where such service is available.” (p.7)

The proposed concrete plant is not “needed to support agricultural production;” clearly, its production will not “be limited to services for local residents.”

This zoning petition is a difficult one because this area of the Town has significant natural resources which people want to use in different and possibly conflicting ways. This area of the Town of Cross Plains marks the edge of the most recent glaciation. When the glaciers retreated over 10,000 years ago, geological forces deposited valuable gravel, created decent farm soil, formed scenic, rolling hills, and provided the channel, aquifer and springs for Black Earth Creek. Because this area is at the edge of glaciation, the land proposed for rezoning and many nearby acres are included in the Ice Age Trail Corridor.

The results of this extraordinary confluence of natural resources is manifest on the land at and around the proposed rezoning and reflected in significant planning efforts. Much of this and nearby land is still being farmed. There is a large quarry adjacent to the proposed rezoning and other land in this area is owned by quarrying interests. One of the strongest reasons cited on behalf of the rezoning is that the existing quarries will make it convenient and economical to convey gravel to the concrete plant. Both scattered single residences and a large subdivision exist in fairly close proximity to the proposed rezoning. Many of these residents oppose this rezoning because they fear it will detract from the values that led them to settle in this area.

The needs to preserve Black Earth Creek, a nationally famous and, as we discovered through a large fish kill last summer, vulnerable trout stream, and to complete and protect the Ice Age Trail are reflected in federal, state, and county plans.

This rezoning dispute is a foreshadowing of more disputes to come in this immediate area. Gravel is a valuable and necessary commodity and there is a major deposit of it in this area. Business people will want to develop and use this resource. Neighbors have a reasonable concern that the presence of a concrete plant could be used as a key argument in approving more quarrying. While some additional development of some of these resources might not fatally compromise the Ice Age Trail Corridor or Black Earth Creek, too extensive commercial or residential development will destroy the values which we aim to preserve by creating the trail and resource protection area. Similarly, increased development could well conflict with these lands as an Agricultural Preservation Area.

The citizens of the Town of Cross Plains wisely foresaw that the day would come when it would be time to revisit the Town Plan. The final words of the Plan contain the following commitments to continued planning:

“7. It is recognized that the Town Land Use Plan will require periodic review and revision in light of changing conditions and experience gained in plan implementation. The intent of the Town Board is to have the Town Land Use Plan reviewed by the Town Planning Committee annually for needed changes. It is further the intent to conduct a major re-evaluation of the plan every 5 years hereafter.” (p. 10)

Despite that pledge, the plan has seen only one minor revision since its adoption over twenty years ago. It is time for the Town Board and citizens to conduct a broad-based and extensive review of the Plan. That effort would provide neighbors, business people, and conservationists with the opportunity to plan for the future of this area in a careful, methodical, fair, and coordinated fashion. I think we can achieve a balance of development and preservation that does justice to the extraordinary natural resources in this part of the Town and County. I do not think approval of this petition helps us reach that balance.

If the Town undertakes this effort, the County will offer its assistance. In view of the rich gravel deposits in this area, I also hope that the work of the committee on quarrying issues, recently created by ZNR Chair Lyman Anderson, will be helpful.

This is a difficult decision. The owners and operators of Wingra Stone Company worked hard to address many concerns. While questions remain concerning their solutions to traffic and stormwater problems, their proposed actions indicate a good faith effort to solve those problems. While I understand the Town Board’s desire to add to the Town’s tax base, I think the state’s M & E exemption means this plant would not have as much positive impact as town officials might expect.

Having reviewed comments and analysis submitted by both sides of this dispute, and having looked at the proposed site in person, I think this veto will help preserve some of Dane County’s most important natural resources. I respectfully ask the County Board to uphold this veto. Thank you.
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