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Gravel pit plan has Forada concerned; meeting set for Wednesday

A proposed 39.9-acre gravel pit next to the city of Forada has some residents bristling, with city and township officials planning a meeting to discuss the issue on Wednesday, Sept. 20.

Minnerath Investments LLC, owned by Joe Minnerath, who also owns road contractor Central Specialties Inc., submitted an environmental assessment worksheet detailing its plan to mine the agricultural land for gravel.

When the pit is needed, trucks would make about 10 trips per hour from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday from April through November, according to demand, the plan states. The site might include processing equipment including crushers. It would hide some of its activities with a 6-foot berm and trees, but concedes it wouldn't conceal stockpiled gravel that could reach 50 feet tall.

After the gravel is depleted, the company indicates its desire to develop it. However, that might take a while.

"Depending on the ultimate extent of the sand and aggregate resources, as well as the demand for those resources, the mine could be in operation for many years," the worksheet said.

Forada Mayor Robert Brittin said the filing prompted him and other city officials to go door-to-door in town, informing the approximately 180 residents of what to expect.

The proposed pit would be the town's next door neighbor, bringing noise, dust and traffic, he said. It would be next to the city's new fire hall and the ball park.

"Every resident that I've talked to ... feels the same way," he said.

He said he understands Central Specialties needs resources, but would prefer to see the property developed into housing so the city can grow. Forada is somewhat hampered by a lake to the west and the proposed pit to the east.

"We don't feel that is a proper location for it," he said.

The meeting is set for 4:30 p.m. at the Forada City Hall. It will be a joint meeting with Hudson Township, where the gravel pit would be located. Local officials would like to put together a response to submit to the state before the Sept. 29 deadline.