Crowd questions quarry plan

Yahara Materials explains Grandview Road proposal
Scott Girard

Photos by Scott Girard. A crowd filled a room at the Fitchburg Fire Station to hear from developers about a proposed quarry at 6194 Grandview Road.

Tim Geoghegan, a superintendent at Yahara Materials, responds to questions at a public information meeting.

A skeptical crowd learning about a proposed Grandview Road quarry questioned the impact it would have on traffic, well water and its neighbors.

Many of the roughly 35 people in attendance left the two-hour informational meeting at the Fitchburg fire station Jan. 22 seemingly distrusting of the answers they received.

“I think a decision like this lasts forever,” Fitchburg resident Mary Ann Berger told ConnectFitchburg after the meeting.

She had spoken up during the meeting, encouraging those in attendance to stay involved throughout the legal process the proposal will have to go through in the city of Fitchburg, including gaining a conditional use permit.

Yahara Materials superintendent Tim Geoghegan, who answered questions at the meeting, echoed Berger’s sentiment, trying to reassure those in attendance that the company wants to work with the community as best it can.

“We are a local company and we have to work with the local communities,” Geoghegan said. “The process is there so those concerns you have can be addressed. There’s nothing here with a hidden agenda.”

The proposed 50-acre quarry at 6194 Grandview Road, on the Robert and Nancy Wolf property just east of the Town of Verona, would remain for 20 to 25 years and have three phases, Geoghegan said, before being turned back into agricultural land and eventually possibly the residential development it is zoned for.

Geoghegan faced constant questions about how the blasting, dust and other potential pollution could affect the surrounding neighborhoods and land, but he reassured them consistently that they would hardly notice.

“We feel that we can work this to fit in the surrounding area with very little impact,” Geoghegan said.

However, when KL Engineering representative Mike Scarmon, who worked on a traffic study done for the project, talked about the six trucks per hour that will travel west on Grandview Road and north on Fitchrona Road to Hwy. PD, many in the crowd cited that route as a primary bicycle route between the Military Ridge and Badger Ridge bike trails.

Scarmon said his company used a county biking group’s maps to determine “primary” biking routes, and those roads did not show up, but many in the audience said the roads are used, anyway. They worried about injuries to bikers on the routes with large trucks driving on them.

Citizens also expressed concerns about high-volume traffic times, such as the mornings and afternoons on school days, but Scarmon told them that six trucks an hour would not have a large effect during situations when a traffic backup already occurs.

Geoghegan also said that if necessary, Yahara Materials would help pay for road improvements that would help ease the traffic flow, such as a left-turn lane into the quarry access road, and he pointed to how those improvements would benefit the area even after the quarry closes.

Teresa Guiliani, who lives seven-tenths of a mile from the property, came with a manila folder full of questions. She cited a conversation with a University of Wisconsin professor about the effects quarries can have as the source of much of her discontent over the project.

She told ConnectFitchburg after the meeting that any City of Fitchburg support for this project “confused” her about “what the overall picture is for land use.” She said development is restricted in some areas while others seem to be gaining support.

She and Berger both expressed concerns that their well water could be contaminated from the deep digging and blasting a quarry requires, but Geoghagen told them the company has “never damaged a well” and takes measures to control dust and other possible irritants.

One complicating factor in the approval process is that while the property itself is in Fitchburg, leaving approval to the city’s Common Council, ownership of Fitchrona Road is split between Fitchburg and the Town of Verona.

Geoghegan said the company would have to come to a joint agreement for how they will use the roadway with both municipalities, but that process is further down the road, well after the proposal would go through the city’s approval process. He said he expects the company to move forward in that process within the next month or two.

He said after the meeting the city had asked the group to hold the public information meeting before making an official proposal.

“Some things we can address, some things we can’t,” he said of what he heard at the meeting, which he said “went OK.”

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