Letter to the Editor: Do the Right Thing

After receiving a letter from the village dated Sept. 28, 2015, titled “Village of Sister Bay Board Report Public Information Notice” there are a few concerns I have to address.

Under the heading of Moving Forward the first paragraph states, “A sunset clause will be considered that will not facilitate substantial expansion of quarrying as a use throughout the Village.” This is not necessarily true. By amending the text to allow quarries as a Conditional Use in the B-1 District you have set a precedent and opened a door that you may not be able to close. What’s to stop someone in the future from coming before the Planning Commission and requesting the same consideration to open a quarry or some other undesirable enterprise, as you are giving Mr. Small? Essentially what Mr. Small is doing is not expanding an existing quarry but opening a new quarry on a different parcel of land next to the existing one. Is this a “can of worms” that you really want to open?

Under the same heading of Moving Forward the second paragraph starts off with the statement, “While this proposed text amendment may ultimately result in an expansion of the existing quarry, the tradeoff is a date certain cessation of quarry activities.” Again this statement is not necessarily true. First off, at the Aug. 26, 2015 meeting the question was raised that at or near the end of the 10-year cessation agreement could Mr. Small reapply to keep his quarry operation open. The question was answered by Mr. Kufrin and the answer was “yes,” he has the right to reapply. So my question is, what good is having a cessation date? Are we as residents of Sister Bay, knowing Mr. Small’s track record in past dealings with the Village, expected to believe that he will abide by this agreement? Secondly, you mention a “tradeoff;” is part of that tradeoff jeopardizing the health, safety and welfare of the residents of Sister Bay?

One topic that was not addressed in the letter was the loss of property values to existing homes and businesses in the surrounding area of the quarry. Shouldn’t this be of some concern to the Village of Sister Bay? Facts show that the value of homes in the immediate area of an “active quarry” drops between 25 and 30 percent. Do you not think that residents living near the quarry (even though we were recently reassessed) are going to request or even demand a new re-assessment? What about the possible loss of property tax revenue on the devalued homes to the Village? Is this something that was thought of and is this something the Village can afford to lose?

In closing, I would ask the Board of Trustees to do the right thing and not be pressured into voting for something the residents of Sister Bay don’t want. Please vote “no” to amending the text change to the B-1 business zoning code allowing stone quarries as a Conditional Use in the Village of Sister Bay. This issue not only impacts the residents in the B-1 District, it affects all the residents of the Village of Sister Bay. Remember you were elected by the residents of Sister Bay who put their faith and trust in you to represent them and their wishes.

Greg Kenneweg

Sister Bay, Wis.

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