About two dozen city residents packed the council chambers at City Hall on Tuesday in opposition to a proposed seven-year quarry project on the lands near Burleigh and Lilly roads.
Super Excavators, a tunneling company based in Menomonee Falls, proposes to buy the 85-acre property from The Quarry Group Joint Venture.
The company told the city it would dump as much as 1.8 million cubic yards of state Department of Transportation-approved soil and clean fill from the Zoo Interchange project and other projects on top of shallow areas of the body of water on the property and surrounding land for up to seven years.
After that the company would dedicate some of the land for use as a city park and the remainder would be used for multifamily housing.
A public comment session was held before the Common Council meeting, with residents holding small yellow signs that read, "NO DUMP." Residents challenged the city's claims that officials' hands are tied due to a state statute that says contractors working on WisDOT highway projects do not need zoning approval for "material disposal sites for transportation projects."
"I read the statute and it doesn't say that the city has no right to enforce any of its ordinances or municipal codes," said 23-year resident Paul Votto, who lives on Parkside Drive, across from the quarry lands. "The fact is the city's hands aren't tied. There is something you can do, and it begins with not entering into an agreement with so many unanswered questions."
Votto said he mailed seven-page latter to the council members and Dan Ertl, director of community development, in June listing questions and concerns about the project, but he hasn't received a reply.
Mark Regal of Regal Crest Village Apartments also addressed the council. Regal Crest has retained an attorney, and Regal said a petition against the project has more than 700 signatures so far. The apartments serve a senior population, and Regal is worried about residents walking to the pool and pond encountering dump trucks.
"I have concerns about the safety of our residents on the pedestrian pathway," he said. "Every four minutes, there will be a risk of a dump truck hitting a pedestrian."
Regal also mentioned concerns of diminished property values and said the property is the third-highest in property taxes in District 1.
Laurie McCabe, owner and manager of Burleigh Road Animal Hospital, told the council that the project will destroy the wildlife population in the area.
"The geese, deer, turkey and other animals use the area as shelter and a quiet place for clean water," McCabe said. "This project will contaminate the water. Leaving it alone is the best option. We implore you to fight with us, not against us."
A total of five residents spoke in opposition to the project, with the audience members clapping and waving signs after each address.
Mayor Steve Ponto reminded residents that the terms of the project will remain public, and that a public hearing on the matter will be scheduled in the future.
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