PORTAGE TOWNSHIP - An agreement between the Portage Township Board of Trustees and the owners of the Valley View Quarry was tentatively approved by both parties Tuesday.
Bruce Petersen, Portage Township supervisor, said the 17-page document provides limits for such things as hours of operation, including six Saturdays during the business season, noise and dust control and what to do with the quarry once operations cease there.
"It will have remediation once the pit is closed," he said.
Daily Mining Gazette/Kurt Hauglie
The Valley View Quarry is seen here in October, 2011. Portage Township and the owners of the quarry have reached a tentative agreement in a zoning dispute.
Petersen said the parties have agreed to the format of the agreement, but there are still some steps to be taken before it becomes official.
"It has yet to be signed by both parties," he said.
The agreement then must be approved and signed by Gogebic Circuit Court Judge Roy Gotham, who presided over a suit regarding the quarry, Petersen said.
In February 2011, the township and nearby property owners Victor and Emily Betterly and Kevin Grzelak filed lawsuits claiming the quarry was operating illegally because it was in an area zoned rural residential. That suit was decided in favor of the plaintiffs. Gogebic Circuit Court Judge Roy Gotham ordered the quarry to cease operations and for the owners of the quarry to begin the process to seek a special use permit. In July 2011, quarry owners, Thomas J. Moyle Jr. Inc., filed a lawsuit in federal court in Marquette asking for a temporary restraining order, or in the alternative a request for preliminary injunction against Portage Township be dismissed. The judge hearing that suit recommended it be dismissed.
Quarry owners did submit an application for a special use permit, but before that process went forward, the attorneys for the township and the quarry decided to work on a consent judgement, which has tentatively been agreed upon.
Regarding noise abatement, Petersen said one earthen berm will be constructed to block noise from the quarry and another berm will be constructed around the quarry generator, which will be moved to a wooded area on the site.
"It will deflect the sound," he said.
Andy Moyle, Moyle Companies president of real estate and development, said although the agreement isn't exactly what he would like, he's glad it's done.
Moyle said the agreement just signed is similar to what was worked out in 2009 with the township board, planning commission and quarry committee.
"The framework was established in '09," he said.
Petersen said the tentative agreement is similar to the 2009 proposal, but it's more definitive about the various aspects, including hours of operation and noise and dust control.
"There are a lot of things that have been enhanced and added," he said.
The remediation of the quarry once operations cease wasn't part of the 2009 proposal, Petersen said.
Moyle said he isn't happy with the restrictions on hours of operation, but he felt he had to accept it.
"This was agree to it or don't operate," he said. "No other business has to operate under such restrictive hours."
Moyle said he's also unhappy the quarry must have a permit because no other quarry in the township has such a restriction.
Despite his misgivings, Moyle said he's glad the quarry can start up again.
"Even though the agreement isn't ideal, we'll be able to get people back to work," he said.
Moyle and Petersen said it may be weeks before a final agreement is signed by both parties and Gotham.
Petersen said the law enacted in July 2011 allowing mining virtually anywhere in the state as long as there aren't "serious consequences" from doing so helped move the process to get an agreement about Valley View Quarry.
"That law changed the ball game," he said.
Petersen said he's relieved an agreement about the quarry is close.
"It's been a long time coming," he said. "It's been give and take on both sides. Both sides are always going to feel they've given a lot. I hope we can move forward."