Alderman Scott Curry’s Messages Regarding the Gravel Pit Extension

Scott can be reached at scurry@ci.mchenry.il.us

April 14, 2018

All,

A further comment, I have decided not to send the update mentioned in my earlier email. I have had discussions with the mayor regarding the meeting Monday. Given what I understand is now going to occur, I don’t want to preface/prejudge it with my information. The reason will be clear at the meeting. I think most of what I would pen will be said at the meeting and more. I encourage to come and listen. If you can’t, I encourage you to watch the meeting on YouTube afterwards. The Public Hearing is up first so you won’t have to wade through the other agenda items. Meetings are usually posted right after adjournment but by the next morning latest. Just search “McHenry City Council” on YouTube with Monday’s date.

If after the meeting, if I feel all is not clear, I will follow up with an email. For now, just know that I had done some investigation, found out some highly pertinent information, met with and informed the Mayor and Administrator yesterday and the Monday discussion will be dramatically affected as a result.

Alderman Scott Curry

April 14, 2018

All,

I will send out a detailed update, probably tomorrow but wanted to give you all a heads up that there will be another public hearing on Monday night 7 pm. Obviously, you all are welcome to come and speak if you wish. Prior meetings where people came have had an impact. I think I can promise the hearing will be interesting given my recent discoveries.

More to follow.

Alderman Scott Curry

March 29, 2018

To all,

See below for a file with the thoughts I provided to Council ahead of the discussion to be held at the Monday April 2 meeting. [ Download ]

One disappointing issue I uncovered this week was that the fees collected by the City are significantly less than what some of us had been led to believe - by a factor of ten. I noticed in a budget meeting that there was a line item showing the fees but at a much smaller number. Upon questioning, I have been told this lower amount is actually correct. So, instead of revenue to the City of $600-700,000 we are only seeing revenue from fees of $65-70,000.

If you wish to see the entire packet of information that Council sees before a meeting, you can go to the city website and find it under Agendas and Minutes. The packets are almost always posted by Wednesday evening prior to a Monday meeting.

As always, you are welcome to pass my email along to others you think might be interested.

Thanks, Alderman Scott Curry

March 26, 2018

To all,

I wanted to provide you with my comments sent to the rest of Council on the initial proposals from Meyer. I have added additional clarification, in italics, for you on items that might not be clear as to what they were proposing. See below:

Administrator Morefield,

As we were asked to do so, I am providing thoughts on the annexation. This email is only to address the items that Meyer claims to be willing to do as outlined in the memo received on March 19 at the Council meeting. I will follow later with a more comprehensive document based on the issues as outlined by residents and Council in prior meetings and documented by your memo provided earlier. I would appreciate it if you would provide these and the later communication to the rest of Council and would also appreciate their communications as well if they so desire.

This again is just to comment on the few items in Attorney McArdle’s letter.

Noise

1. The white noise backup alarms were required by the P&Z hearing and document. While possibly a welcome change, it is nothing new that they are proposing as a result of the March 16 meeting with staff. This affects only their equipment in the gravel operation. No effect on trucks and asphalt operations.

2. The berming along residential areas has been a requirement and is still required under the current agreement. The height has been specified as a minimum of 10 feet in the current agreement. The specification for a 10’ high by 40’ wide berm appears in the 1987 Reclamation Plan and 1988 Ordinances. This is an offer of nothing new. In fact, if there are any areas not currently bermed that are mined it would constitute a substantial violation of the existing annexation agreement.

They were promising to berm along the Glacier Ridge subdivision.

3. This was always their plan for mining as was related to me during my tour of the facility last summer. It is actually the most efficient way for them to mine. The crusher is required to be in the northwest area by current agreement and is nothing new.

This was a description of them mining from west to east in rows at the current area just west of Glacier Ridge. They also stated the crusher would be in that area where it is now.

4. Processing of raw material on the south side, again, has been required by past agreement. It was stated twenty years ago in the 1998 amendments. Again, nothing new.

They stated processing to be done on the south side. But, I just today noticed a statement that crushing will be done on south and north side. I hope it is a typo because that will need clarification as that would move a significant noise source north of Rt. 120.

Bonding

Confirmation of the bonding does nothing significant. The bonding has always been required and has been required to be updated. This goes back decades.

They were offering to confirm a state bond of $750,000 and city bond of $300,000.

Storm water

Retention of storm water in these areas has been required since the 1987 Reclamation Plan.

In the 1998 Amendment, there is reference to on-site storm water detention areas being constructed and maintained. A quote from that plan, “With regard to Parcels A, B, C, D and E, the Owner shall construct and maintain on-site detention in the location and manner directed by the City’s consulting engineer.” This requirement is decades old. The fact is that, due to topography, storm water probably cannot escape parcels B thru E no matter what Meyer does and requires zero effort on their part. The real issue affecting the City and Lakeland Park is the water coming off of parcel A where the asphalt and concrete plants are located.

Based on a recent study, as much as 17% of water moving through Lakeland Park is from their operation. Unknown is the amount of silt. They were only saying water west of parcel A would be retained. Parcel A would continue to go through the existing storm sewer, i.e. Lakeland Park drainage.

Fees

This proposal is wholly inadequate, a half cent every five years. They have been at $0.06/ton for the last five years and are offering a half cent increase for each subsequent five years! We know, based on recent news reporting, that a gravel pit just to the east will be paying $0.10/ton. That should be our bottom starting point. Some of these materials are sold for $15-16/ton, maybe more. My recommendation would be $0.10/ton for fiscal 18/19 and a half cent every year thereafter, minimum. By 2032, if it goes that long, the fee would then be $0.17/ton. In 2032, this may less than 1% of the 2018 product value.

The documentation has been required for decades. They simply have not done what was required and we haven’t called them on it. This is another substantial and recurring violation.

They offered to provide monthly documentation. We all found out during a recent meeting that the city staff simply gets a check from them and gets nothing to verify the basis of payment. I had asked questions about this in the past and never got a clear answer.

In short, the Meyer proposals only offer 2 new things from current; the backup alarms already required under the zoning hearing and, a wholly inadequate fee change.

As I said, I will be preparing a more comprehensive response later but I wanted all to get this now.

Alderman Scott Curry

March 21, 2018

To all,

Just a quick update.

The issue will be discussed in detail on April 2nd. Plus, another public hearing will be on April 16th. Meetings start at 7 pm. Again, you are welcome to attend and make comments at either meeting.

City staff met with Meyer on Friday, 3/16 to convey concerns, though Meyer had been sent a list earlier. Meyer responded to our attorney with things they were willing to do. Most of the half dozen items were issues they either were required to do by the recent zoning hearing and document or are already required under the current annexation agreement. I won’t insult you by listing them here.

I will, however, be responding on those and other issues to staff and mayor in detail and giving suggestions on solutions to issues raised by us in some of the recent meetings. I am going to attempt to find some balance in demands but will be far more comprehensive than anything I’ve seen to date. I will send those communications out to you as they are sent to the city.

Thanks,
Alderman Scott Curry

March 5, 2018 (2)

To all,

(btw-there are 45 people on this distribution but please forward to anyone else you think is interested)

I want to first thank the people who came to tonight’s meeting and especially those who spoke. Gerry Stueckman, Nicholas Finia, Patricia Schatz, Terry Nader, Mary Nader, Jackie Matthiessen, and Jay Matthiessen - you all did a great job with your well thought out comments. I believe you made a definite impact. It is the only time I recall seeing at least four Council members taking notes while listening. I know I learned a few new things tonight and I’m sure the others did as well.

I was successful in getting the Public Hearing actually closed rather than continued until April 16. It is a small thing but that means Meyer Materials will have to publish again in the paper prior to the April 16 Public Hearing. Had tonight simply been continued they would have had no further obligation to notify the public.

I was highly disappointed that no one from Meyer Materials had the basic courtesy to even show up and listen to residents in a public hearing that they essentially forced upon us by publishing it on February 16th without any express agreement from the City to publish for this date. (I did verify that the city staff only told them that March 5th was the first possibility of a date but not that it actually would be that night. They published on the same day (Feb 16) that the City Administrator was emailing Council that it might happen on March 19th, not March 5th.)

The coming schedule is as follows:

March 19th meeting - no plan to have this on the agenda. However, the public is always welcome to come and speak at the beginning of any meeting about any topic.

April 2nd meeting - It appears that the ordinances and request for the extensions recommended by Planning and Zoning will come before us. It is also the night that staff will be looking to Council for guidance on what to include in the amended annexation agreement. I do not intend to vote for any ordinance extending the Conditional Use for mining unless I know what will be in the resulting amended annexation document. To me, they need to be voted on at the same time. The only exception might be if we can get it changed to a short extension (4 yrs?), plus have it contingent on a signed amended annexation agreement.

April 16th meeting - Another public hearing will be held. Council will likely be voting on an amended agreement at this meeting. It could be continued but my guess is there will be a vote.

You are welcome to comment at any and all of these meetings, even if you are repeating issues previously brought up. The more Council hears from residents, the better the possible results.

Alderman Scott Curry

March 4, 2018 (2)

To all,

The February 19th Council meeting came and went with no public commenters on the gravel pit. We have several more meetings to get in front of this issue. But, if you have concerns and believe someone else will step up, it is not likely going to happen. You must get involved or simply be satisfied with whatever result occurs.

Tomorrow is another opportunity. In fact, there is a public hearing scheduled about the issue. The meeting begins at 7:00 pm and the public hearing is first up.

Let me give you the latest as I have it on this process. There will be the public hearing tomorrow. This is scheduled only because there was a notice published in the paper by Meyer Materials. My understanding at this point is that they published with little input from the city, I am trying to get more information on that but nevertheless the hearing will happen even though we are not prepared as a Council. The plan is to open the hearing, provide comment opportunity and then immediately continue the hearing until April 16th.

This week, Council received an email outlining the schedule. At the meeting tomorrow, Council will be given information about the ordinances for the Use permit and provided a draft copy of the Planning and Zoning meeting minutes where the Use was recommended along with the extension of four years for a total of 14 years operations. A list of issues was also provided in that email and covers virtually everything brought up recently by residents and myself. Council members have been asked to review the concerns and respond with any additional concerns. This is only a list at this point, not a guarantee that anything will be actually written into the agreement.

The annexation will then be discussed at the April 2nd Council meeting. Staff will be looking for a Council consensus on what criteria/conditions to include in the new amended annexation agreement. The proposed agreement will then be considered for adoption at the April 16th meeting subsequent to the public hearing portion that night. There is no absolute requirement that an annexation is passed that night, there could be another continuance, but I would think it likely something will be proposed.

Please, if you can, try to make these meetings and speak if you have concerns. If not, the resulting silence will make it exceedingly difficult for other Council members to see the importance of your issues. All meetings begin at 7:00 pm; March 5, March 19, April 2 and April 16. Please come and sign in to speak. Even a short, nervous comment is better than none at all.

I hope to see you there. If you do come, please introduce yourself to me.

Alderman Scott Curry

February 18, 2018 (2)

Nicholas,

Sure, all the emails are public record and can be found on the city website, ci.mchenry.il.us , but here they are:

wjett@ci.mchenry.il.us Mayor

vsanti@ci.mchenry.il.us Ward 1

aglab@ci.mchenry.il.us Ward 2

jschaefer@ci.mchenry.il.us Ward 3

scurry@ci.mchenry.il.us Ward 4

cmihevc@ci.mchenry.il.us Ward 5

pdevine@ci.mchenry.il.us Ward 6

gcondon@ci.mchenry.il.us Ward 7

If interested, you can also find a map of the wards on the website.

Alderman Scott Curry

On Feb 18, 2018, at 8:31 PM, Nicholas Finia wrote:

Hello Scott,

Thank you very much for your support, thorough explanation of the process and the heads up for the upcoming Council meeting. I would like to voice our concerns in writing in advance of the meeting as you have recommended as well as plan to attend the meeting in person on March 19th. Could you kindly provide us with names, titles and addresses of the individuals where the written comments should be sent to (physical addresses, e-mails)? I have replied to all to avoid duplicate efforts on your part in the event others may be interested in the same.

Thank you,
Nick Finia

February 18, 2018 (1)

To all,

First, I want to notify you that the annexation agreement will come before Council at the March 19th meeting. The meeting starts at 7 pm.

While that sounds a bit far off, it is not. There are exactly only two meetings before that meeting. Realistically, if you wish to be heard and have those comments considered in the building of the annexation agreement, you need to get your comments before Council, Mayor and staff prior to the night of the vote. That only gives you tomorrow night and one other, Feb 19th and Mar 5th. You should sign in to speak and if the item is not on the agenda for that night, you would speak at the beginning of the meeting. If it is on the agenda (Mar 19), there will be opportunity to speak when the item comes up later in the meeting. At the Mar 19th meeting, if you do not agree with what has been proposed, it would be important to be there to voice that in an effort to get Council to deny the offending motion. I hope it does not come to that.

I again want to thank those who came to the Planning & Zoning Commission meeting last Wednesday. While it was a long meeting, I think it was worthwhile. The Commission approved the Conditional Use for ten years both north and south of Rt 120. Plus they approved an additional four year variance for the south property, i.e. mining both properties until 2032. This is exactly what Meyer Materials, LLC asked for and what I expected to happen. However, the Commissioners were struggling with the vote and it was a while before the motion was even made. That was the effect of you, the residents. Nine residents spoke though there were probably that many more in the room. The dissatisfaction was very much heard and I hope it impacts what staff and the Mayor include in the actual annexation agreement.

Your voice will be heard by Council but only if you speak. We will not get complete changes with everything everyone wants but we will hopefully get some changes to make life a little easier.

Forgive me for the following as I know some of you have already received an explanation from me about the process.

What happens in an annexation such as this is that first P&Z Commission considers the proposal for the land use and how it complies with underlying zoning. These can be technical issues and must be put before the P&Z Commission first. They did vote for the proposal 5 to 1 on Wednesday. That vote is a recommendation to Council. It is not approval. But it can come with conditions as this one does. One of those requires “white noise” backup alarms on pit equipment. (Keep in mind that this does not affect other equipment used by the asphalt plant or cement company trucks since they are used on a land parcel not included in what P&Z considered.)

An annexation agreement is then required to be written and agreed to by Meyer Materials and the City. This is the crux of what will control their actions going forward. It is this agreement including the land use mentioned above that Council will consider and pass or reject on Mar 19. As far as I am aware, we can ask for anything reasonable within the annexation agreement. This is where any changes to reclamation, bonding, remittance, other noise, dust issues can be included. And yes, I believe we can ask for considerations on the parcel where the asphalt plant sits as well.

There has been a meeting with Curran Contracting (asphalt operator) to discuss some of their impacts on residents. This was with the Mayor and City Administrator only. Mr. Curran as I understand is willing to attempt further change to try and impact the noise from that plant. He does not appear to be willing to move off the 5 am start time however. I believe without some movement on hours of operation, we will not have an acceptable result.

I could go on but that’s enough for now. Please attend the meetings and speak. If you have spoken at P&Z last Wednesday, please come to Council as they will not have heard your concerns from you. Your comments are far more powerful in person than merely related by me.

Thank you,
Alderman Scott Curry

February 16, 2018

Mike,

There has always been an asphalt plant. It appears in the first annexation agreement in 1976. It is the source of a “jet engine” like noise and it starts up 5-5:30 am most everyday M-Sat during April thru Nov except bad weather days. And, of course, also heard are the backup alarms for their mobile equipment.

It is not part of the current request for a Conditional Use to continue mining operations. It is on the first parcel, Parcel A, of Meyer’s property. It’s annexation ran out years ago and the property reverted to the underlying zoning which is I-1, Heavy Industrial.

Even so, I’m trying to keep it included in any current negotiations since it can be the loudest thing you hear depending on your location. Some areas no longer hear the crusher/mining operation since it is at the pit bottom but they do hear and are awakened by the asphalt burner firing up. Obviously, other areas hear the mining operation.

Scott Curry

On Feb 15, 2018, at 8:36 PM, Michael Swanson wrote:

I’m wondering about the Asphalt Plant Annexation? I wasn’t aware that there was or planned to be an Asphalt plant. If there is one where is it or if it doesn’t presently exist where will it be?

Mike

February 15, 2018

Gerry,

Thanks for your message and especially for attending the meeting last night.

Let me attempt to answer some of your comments/questions.

I believe the dust complainants were mostly from Burning Tree, certainly the four people who were sitting in front of me.

My understanding was that they should not be using the berm as a haul road. Other than that it is necessary when the berm is being built or possibly finish landscaped. I would think it defeats the whole purpose of a berm if you are driving atop it.

They will have to reclaim the area in that SE corner of the mine. I do not know how long that is estimated to take.

You are correct that the Council is the ultimate decider here, not the P&Z Commission.

I also encourage any and all to attend any Council meeting, and speak, between now and when the final vote is taken. That gets your views out there for the rest of Council and Mayor to hear. (The Mayor is also a vote on annexation agreements) However, it is not on the agenda for Feb 19. I will let you know when the vote will happen but the time to get provisions in the agreement is before that vote. Also, FYI, there are 8 votes and it’ll take 6 votes to pass this, it is a super majority issue.

We are negotiating a higher payment arrangement though I have not been privy up to now as to how much of a change the administration is pushing for. Currently, it is a $0.06/ton fee and we end up at about $700,000 per year.

Alderman Scott Curry

On Feb 15, 2018, at 8:31 AM, Gerry Stueckemann wrote:

The Planning and Zoning Commission gave permission to the gravel pit to continue operations both north and south of route 120 until 2032. Many residents appeared to express their concerns about the volume of noise and dust created by the pit. Most of these residents were from Glacier Ridge. Although they are through mining behind Woodcreek, they still have some fill-in to do in the southeast corner of the pit. They will get this fill as they work north behind Glacier Ridge and then take what they don't want to mine to the fill area in the southeast corner. This means years of still having trucks going behind Woodcreek. No answer was given to me as to how long this would take -- estimated 3 to 4 years. I did express my displeasure at the trucks and diggers using "our berm" as a highway. Randy said he had no knowledge of this.

Although, actuarially, I probably won't be around in the year 2032 when they are up for renewal, this still has to go before the City Council for approval. That meeting is February 19 at 7:00 PM. I encourage anyone who can attend this meeting to do so. It may be something for Ed to put on our website.

The Pit seems to carry a lot of weight with the City. We are no longer dealing with Chuck Miller and the Bolgers where a handshake sealed a deal. This is an International Firm whose only concern is getting every penny available from this pit. I'm not sure what kind of monetary deal the City has with the Pit, but it's probably time for them to renegotiate, and for the City to receive more recompense and maybe our taxes could be reduced a little.

February 12, 2018

To all,

The land use and term of the annexation will be considered this Wednesday at a Planning & Zoning Commission meeting, February 14, 7:30 pm at City Hall. They will recommend to Council whether or not to continue the use as a mining operation for the next 14 years.

Other items are mentioned in their documents as to be negotiated between City and the pit operator. Those items include hours of operation, noise from equipment and mobile equipment alarms, reclamation, storm water, other issues such as complaint handling, remittances to the city, audit of production, etc.

Even though your item may be listed, it is still a good time to get your thoughts/concerns on the record. At the Feb 5 Council discussion, attendance was sparse with only two people from the surrounding neighborhoods. I know a few who wanted to be there but weather and commitments intruded. If you aren’t there, it is hard to get a feel for what the residents think though I have tried based on the contacts I’ve had with some of you. Please plan to attend if you can. And come back before/when we vote on the issue.

You may attend any Council meeting between now and when we vote on the issue. If it’s not on the agenda, simply make your comments at the public comment period when the meeting starts. Next meeting is February 19, 7:00 pm. It is vital that Council hears from residents especially on an important long term issue such as this. Forward/discuss with your neighbors so we can get a complete picture of what residents expect.

I’ve attached my earlier comments for your ease of review.

February 1, 2018

To all,

You are receiving this because you have discussed the gravel pit/asphalt plant with me in the past either via phone or email or you live in the Ward in proximity to the activities of this operation or its traffic and I had your email. I had promised to keep you informed of developments. The annexation agreement for the part of the operation located south of Rt 120 expires on May 1st. An extension must be approved by Council for operation to continue. The operator is asking that we extend for another 14 years which requires a 4 year variance since normal extensions are in 10 year terms. In addition, the operator is asking that the north of Rt 120 pit area be extended 10 years even though it is not yet due to expire. This would allow operations until 2032 in both areas and they both would expire together.

The Council will discuss this extension at the Monday, February 5 meeting which begins at 7 pm. It is the last item on the agenda. It is a discussion only item, meaning no votes will take place, just a look for consensus of how and what to proceed on. Subsequently, the matter will tentatively be taken up at the Planning and Zoning meeting on February 14 though it could be delayed pending Monday’s discussion. Finally, it will come back to Council at a later date for approval.

All of these meetings are forums for public input. I encourage you to come to one or all meetings, particularly if you have comments or concerns. Any meeting attended is better than none but the earlier in the process your views are heard the easier it is to take them into account. Representatives from the operation will be present at the meeting and, while procedure will not allow them to take questions from the audience, they will be on hand to answer any questions from Council.

If you know of other interested residents/neighbors who would like to know more about this operation and annexation agreement you may pass along this information to them.

Thank you, Alderman Scott Curry

P.S. Additional information

I have been involved off and on with resident concerns since shortly after taking office in 2015. Issues are mainly around hours of operation and noise disturbance but have also included an occasional dust concern and change in quarry operational area.

There have been instances of them operating the asphalt plant outside their allowable hours over the years such as early startup or Sunday operating, neither of which are allowed. But no instances I’ve been notified of since November 2015. However, they still currently have the ability to start that operation at 5 am, and do, which some residents believe is too early. It is an issue we are looking at.

As concerns the noise level, the asphalt operator did make a change in 2016 to the burner to lower the noise level. I have noted an improvement at my location.

In terms of dust, I know a few instances have occurred but think it has been an isolated upset in the operation or a need to add more road wetting during particular dry times. I believe these dust issues have been quickly addressed each time.