Plan Commission passes on ‘pond’ permit

March 1, 2019

La PORTE – A contentious agenda item was struck down during the La Porte County Plan Commission meeting on Tuesday night.

Seats were filled in the County Complex meeting room with neighbors and concerned citizens as a Michigan CIty construction company appealed the “Red Tag” stop-work order issued for a construction site on CR-400W, just north of Schultz Road in Center Township.

But a public hearing on the matter never took place.

The land is zoned residential, and in July 2015, D&M Excavating and its vice president, Ryan Miller, were given a permit to build a home and four-acre pond on the site.

But neighbors contended all along that the site was an illegal sand mining operation, that no home would be built, and that D&M had used a loophole to allow a business in a residential area.

Neighbors said they had cause for suspicion because D&M was awarded a $1.6 million contract to provide sand for the New Porte Landing project just days after the permit was approved.

Neighboring homeowners had been complaining about the site for years, especially the large number of trucks coming in and out of the residential area removing sand and dumping other materials.

The permit for the construction of the pond was originally to expire after 12 months, but received approval for an extension of an additional 12 months.

But that 24-month period had long since expired, and County Commissioners Sheila Brillson and Vidya Kora voted to “red tag” the site during the Feb. 6 meeting of the Board on the recommendation of commissioners’ attorney Shaw Friedman.

A public hearing on D&M’s petition to appeal the stop-work determination was scheduled for Tuesday, but Commissioner Rich Mrozinski made a motion to strike the item from the agenda.

Mrozinski said that this was based on the “recommendation from our attorney.”

The red tag that stopped construction said that a variance would be necessary to restart work at the site.

The motion passed and the matter was passed on to the BZA.

A post on the Facebook page La Porte Citizens Opposed to Unauthorized Sand Mining, thanked the commission.

“Tonight the Plan Commission refused to hear this issue and pushed it to the La Porte County Zoning Board, where the County Commissioners said the issue had to be heard. We would like to thank the Plan Commission for following through with the County Commissioners’ request that this goes before the Zoning Board,” the post read.

“So stay tuned folks, this isn’t over yet.”

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