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County halts illegal digging near Lake Ida's shoreline

The view of the hillside at the intersection of Highways 7 and 50 from Lake Ida was one of trucks and dirt. By late Tuesday afternoon, the gravel pit was shut down due to lack of a permit. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)

A gravel pit that appeared early this week at the corner of Highways 7 and 50 near Zorbaz was shut down by late Tuesday afternoon due to lack of a permit.

The gravel pit appeared for use as "borrow material" for the bridge project on CSAH 7 near Zorbaz, said Hubbard County Engineer David Olsonawski.

The project began Monday. The state aid project includes approach grading and bridge replacement.

Central Specialties, Inc., the contractor hired to work on the project, was responsible to find "borrow material," said Assistant Engineer Jed Nordine. The hillside they chose to get permission to use from the landowner at the intersection of Highway 7 and 50 was next to the project but it was also close to Lake Ida.

"They needed a conditional use permit," Nordine said.

Several property owners near the gravel pit on Lake Ida expressed concern about the project and contacted county officials as soon as digging began.

County Commissioner Doc Carlson said he had heard from people who were concerned about the gravel pit.

The gravel pit was shut down after Environmental Service was notified and checked into the project.

"We were notified yesterday (Tuesday) of something going on in that area and were asked to take a look at it to see if there were any ordinance violations," said Environmental Service Administrator Eric Buitenwerf. "We discovered there was an extractive use occurring in that corner of 50 and county 7."

An extractive use requires a conditional use permit through the shoreland management ordinance, Buitenwerf explained.

"One hadn't been obtained so a stop work order was placed on the contractor who was excavating in that area," he said.

The contractor was informed of the need for a conditional use permit application. Buitenwerf said the contractor is in the process of getting a permit compiled and submitted to the county for consideration.

The permit application will go to the planning commission and then the county board. The next available meeting where the county can take action is in September, Buitenwerf said.

"The road project itself is able to continue," he said. "They just have to find an alternate source for borrow material."

For now, the hillside remains dug up but will likely be restored, Buitenwerf said.

"I would imagine that no matter what the outcome is, there will need to be restoration and re-vegetation of that area," he said. "But what that will consist of will mainly be determined by the county board when it takes that up."