Setting aside the recommendation of the county's Planning Commission, the Houston County Board of Commissioners denied a conditional use permit (CUP) on Oct. 30.
Three members of the Money Creek Township Board appeared at the meeting, urging denial of the permit application for J.B. Holland Construction to remove approximately 30,000 cubic yards of material from a borrow pit to be used on the Perkins Valley Drive road project.
Dale Omodt identified himself as chairman of the Money Creek Township board. He was joined by members Richard Torgeson and Wayne Meyer.
The borrow pit's close proximity to Historic Omodt Cemetery and heavy truck traffic on existing portions of Perkins Valley Drive are problematic, Omodt said.
"If the contractor would have come to us initially, we would have definitely steered them away from this site," he stated.
Omodt added that two other sites are available which are just as close to the construction zone, and could access the work area without tearing up Perkins Valley Drive.
The CUP site is on the Dennis Kinstler farm. Omodt said the borrow pit is on a "picturesque bluff ridge next to the cemetery. This would take away from the aesthetics of the area. There were many burials in this cemetery from 1854-1911, most without permanent markers. The exact area of the graves is not known. They could extend on up this ridge through and beyond the proposed borrow area."
With 1,600 dump truck trips, Omodt said, "This would be an absolute disaster for the people traveling this road. If they would use the other two borrow pit site options, all of these issues would be avoided.
"I think we feel rather bad about this situation. The contractor came in here and didn't contact us, and it seems like the zoning people have supported them. You kind of get that feeling of a bully big brother way of doing business. It's really disheartening.
"We are a township. We're supporting our residents, and we would hope you respect our decisions and that you would let us make our own decisions and honor them."
Chairman Jack Miller said that he had visited the site following last week's tabling of the permit.
Commissioners Teresa Walter and Steve Schuldt also walked the area at a different time, zoning administrator Bob Scanlan reported.
Commissioner Justin Zmyewski said he was familiar with the area.
"I'll always back a township in my district," he stated. "Do I also think it impacts the cemetery? Absolutely. We know there's other alternatives, other places to go. Based on that, I would make a motion to deny the permit."
Walter seconded. Schuldt did not attend the meeting.
Scanlan asked commissioners, which CUP criteria a denial would be based on. Zmyewski cited two. The first of those deals with traffic congestion and traffic hazards.
The second asks if a CUP would "be injurious to the use and enjoyment of other property in the immediate vicinity for the purposes already permitted."
Scanlan then asked if the Planning Commission's condition that the contractor stay 150 feet north of the cemetery was not acceptable.
Zmyewski said that in his opinion, that was not enough to address local concerns.
County engineer Brian Pogodzinski warned that there is currently no approved borrow site closer than the Kinstler farm.
"If this gets denied the contractor can choose to haul soil in from Iowa or wherever else," he cautioned, "which would have a greater road impact."
Opening a new borrow site would require time, Scanlan said. The county board would probably not see that CUP application for another month, he noted.
"I would say 90 percent of the time we agree with the decision of the Planning Commission," Miller said, "but we also have another level of government here that I think we need to show respect to."
The vote to deny the CUP was unanimous.
J.B. Holland has already applied for an alternative CUP on two other parcels and a public hearing before the planning commission is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m. in the Commissioners Room. The landowners who would be selling fill material are Jeff Beckman and Lucille Omodt-Crow.