Proposed quarry sparks debate, but no decision

2014-02-19T19:00:00Z 2014-02-19T23:21:07Z Proposed quarry sparks debate, but no decisionBill Dolan bill.dolan@nwi.com, (219) 662-5328 nwitimes.com
February 19, 2014 7:00 pm  • 

CROWN POINT | A consultant has recommended Lake County officials deny a drainage permit for the proposed Singleton Stone quarry, but county officials aren't yet ready to act on that advice.

Mike Gangstad, of the Evansville, Ind., engineering firm of Bernadin Lochmueller and Associates, concluded the drainage plan for the proposed quarry near Interstate 65 and Ind. 2 couldn't ensure the integrity of local drainage systems if it must pump millions of gallons of seeping groundwater out of its excavation and into local waterways.

Gangstad questions whether the Indiana Department of Environmental Management must first issue an opinion about the proposed quarry's impact on surrounding wetlands, which are protected by environmental laws, before the county can make its own ruling.

That provoked a sharp response Wednesday from James Wieser, a Schererville attorney representing the quarry developer, and caution from Lake County Surveyor William Emerson Jr., whose office oversees the county drainage system.

Wieser said the developer must be given a chance to prove the consultant's fears are groundless and that the firm's advice should not be adopted by the Lake County Drainage Advisory Board, a group of property owners concerned about drainage matters that was in session early Wednesday.

Wieser also said he doesn't believe IDEM must get involved in the dispute.

Emerson said he asked the advisory board to defer a vote on the report until Singleton answers.

The advisory board can only make its nonbinding recommendation to the special Lake County Drainage Board, which has the authority to deny or approve the quarry. No date is set for a final decision.

Singleton Stone LLC won zoning approval in 2010 to begin work southeast of Lowell on 600 acres of land owned by the Van Kalker family, despite opposition from a group of south county farmers who say pumping at the quarry could dry up nearby irrigation wells and flood downstream fields.

Wieser said the quarry will not add more water to the county's drainage ways during times of normal weather and will retain water within the depths of the excavation during high-water periods after storms.

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