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Will County panel opposes Wheatland quarry request

Updated: March 13, 2013 6:01AM

JOLIET — Wheatland Township residents who oppose concrete crushing at Boughton Materials Inc.’s quarry won a victory on Monday when a Will County Board committee unanimously rejected the company’s zoning requests.

“I think it was appropriate and based on fact,” opponent Chris Leshock of Naperville said of the land use committee’s 7-0 vote.

Residents who live near the quarry at 22750 W. Hassert Blvd. fear concrete crushing will produce a toxic dust that could harm their children and pollute the DuPage River. They also worry the operation would increase truck traffic that would be a bad mix with teen drivers from nearby high schools.

Company officials say they would use water to mitigate dust during the crushing process and they would not crush any concrete that contained contaminants. They also have said they would agree to a long list of conditions to make the operation safe and that truck traffic would only increase slightly.

Full board must vote

The committee’s denial is not final. The full county board will vote on the zoning matter at 9:30 a.m. Feb. 21 in the county office building, 302 N. Chicago St.

If the county board denies the zoning requests from Boughton, the company can still take the matter to court. Previous court victories allowed Boughton to operate a limestone quarry.

Now Boughton officials are asking for a special-use permit for concrete crushing and a change from agricultural to industrial zoning.

The quarry was switched from industrial to agricultural zoning in 1978 when the county enacted new zoning rules. Back then, there were only a few hundred homes in the area, Leshock said. Today, thousands of people have moved into subdivisions to the north and west of the quarry, which also is close to two high schools and three grade schools.

If they quarry had been zoned industrial, nearby residents wouldn’t have moved into their homes, said Republican Caucus Chairman Jim Moustis, R-Frankfort Township.

“It would be a travesty to introduce industrial zoning into residential areas,” he said. “ ... It would be bad precedent for the county.”

Company’s stand

Company spokesman Scott Pointner, a Wheaton lawyer, said the concrete crushing portion of the business would be directly across 111th Street from Vulcan quarry, which is zoned industrial and has a permit for the more intense processing clean construction or demolition debris. Boughton and Vulcan are part of a large quarrying and recycling corridor that includes hundreds of acres, he said.

Opponents fear that some of the concrete that is being crushed would contain asbestos, but that is very unlikely, said William Turley, executive director of the Construction Materials Recycling Association.

Asbestos in concrete is “incredibly rare” and it is easy to spot, Turley said.

About 140 million tons of concrete are recycled in the United States each year, he explained.

Anyone who things that concrete crushing is unsafe, “Does not understand what they’re talking about — I’ve been doing this 19 years,” he said.

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