Letter: History of Existing Quarry in Sister Bay

There is presently a stone quarry (behind the Shopko store) that has been in existence, for more than 45 years, as a very small and incidental operation that was only used occasionally. For most of those years the vast majority of Village residents never even knew about the quarry because its use was so casual. This was part of the Krist’s Grocery property and the quarry was a secondary use. Over the years the neighboring properties were developed as residential neighborhoods. The very low key, casual operation of the quarry was of no concern to those establishing residency in the area as most were not even aware of the quarry’s existence.

In 2008 Krist divided the property and sold the quarry off separately from the grocery store, this is when the quarry was no longer a secondary use of the main parcel. There is no way that transaction should have elevated this non-conforming use to the primary use of the property. The new property owner did not acquire a “vested interest” in the continuance of this “nonconforming use,” because the historic use was casual and occasional, and the quarry use was merely accessory or incidental to the principal use.

The new quarry ownership maintained an adversarial relationship with the community from the beginning. Operations have now changed the character of what used to be a small incidental stone quarry operation. The new owner has expanded, and intensified the quarry in violation of the “non-conforming use” status.

This existing quarry should be issued orders to cease operations because of this change of use. By the quarry owner’s own admission in his letter of November 15, 2012, the character of this operation has already intensified and expanded, and even more expansions are contemplated.

Expansion or enlargement of a nonconforming use which changes the use invalidates not only the illegal change, but the legal nonconforming use as well. The current quarry operation is not operated in the best interests of the public and does not promote the health, safety, welfare and convenience of the public.

No new quarries should be permitted.

Now, because the depth of the present quarry makes the stone removal more difficult and costly, the ownership proposed in 2013 to open a new quarry on property they own to the east of the present quarry and deeper into the residential community.

The present Village Zoning Code does not permit a quarry anywhere within the Village, but now the Village Board is about to vote on a text amendment that would allow a new quarry.

At a recent public hearing there was 100 percent response of “no” to the zoning change by the affected residents. No zoning change means no new quarry.

Paul Kelnhofer

Sister Bay, Wis.

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