The big dig that was undone

The city hearing examiner denied an appeal on a stop-work order for the sand pit near Lynwood Center. -
The city hearing examiner denied an appeal on a stop-work order for the sand pit near Lynwood Center.
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A court order denies an appeal on work-site.

An appeal against a stop-work order at a south-end sand pit was denied by the city hearing examiner last week.

The stop-work order at the sand pit borrow side – a triangle of land bordered by Fletcher Bay, Bucklin Hill and Lynwood Center roads – was issued in June of this year. Sand at the site was being extracted by Nelson Wood and Glass, owned by Bill Nelson, for the ongoing Blossom Hill development at Lynwood Center.

Upholding the stop-work order meant that Nelson would have needed a conditional-use permit issued by the city to continue with the filling of the site. However, now Nelson will have to seek additional permits from the Department of Natural Resources to continue reclamation since the agency is taking over jurisdiction in the matter.

DNR has argued that, since the site has historically been used as a sand mine, Nelson will be responsible for reclamation on the whole 4.2-acre site, not just the three acres he was originally permitted to use.

Under state law, a dig that exceeds three acres and a depth of 15 feet is classified as a surface mine subject to regulation under the Surface Mining Act of 1971. DNR in essence argued that access to a portion of the site constitutes access to the entire site and applicable laws.

Activity originally approved at the site allowed for the removal of 20,000 cubic yards of sand from a 3-acre area which was to be replaced by roughly 30,000 cubic yards of glacial till. The entire site was to then be covered with top soil.

The project was tagged by the city after citizen complaints. The stop-work order was issued because the size of the site being used in the project exceeded the three-acre maximum surface area due to the storage of stockpiled top soil for the final phase of reclamation. The storage of that soil on-site was also not allowed in the original permit.

When DNR officials were contacted, they said they had received a partially completed surface mining application that had not yet been paid for.

Nelson could not be contacted regarding the permit or the hearing examiner’s decision at the time of printing.

Notes from last week’s hearing show that Nelson admitted the project exceeded its required scope. The hearing examiner also noted that ongoing activities at the site were not threatening to the environment.

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