Board OKs Roger & Sons permit for concrete crushing despite city’s concerns; Fear that Cook Farm site could be devalued

Published 10:54 am Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Mower County Board opted to back an existing business’s request to add services despite concerns for future development.

Despite protests from city of Austin staff and the Development Corporation of Austin, the county board unanimously voted Tuesday to approve the Bastyr family’s permit request to add asphalt and concrete crushing at the family’s paving contractor business Roger & Sons, which is located in Lansing Township.

Austin Public Works Director Steven Lang voiced the city’s concerns about dust, vibrations, aesthetics and other issues from Roger & Sons concrete/asphalt crushing having a negative effect on the city’s development plans at the Cook Farm at Highway 218 and 27th Ave.

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But the county didn’t share those concerns.

“I just have a hard time being too concerned about your use being detrimental to the development of the Cook Farm because there’s been no development there,” Commissioner Jerry Reinartz said. “There may be in the future; hopefully there is. We’d love to see the whole thing developed.”

Roger & Sons’ permit was approved with 15 stipulations, mainly involving dust, aesthetics, noise and vibrations from asphalt crushing. The stipulations call for trees to be planted around the site, and they’ll be required to control dust from the crushing using mist.

One resident wrote a letter to the board, which was read by Environmental Service Director Angie Knish, saying the concrete/asphalt recycling will fill a need left after Wallace Bustad Excavating Service closed and SKB Environmental also ceased its crushing services. Commissioners agreed there was a need after Bustad closed his business, and they noted both Bustad and SKB’s former crushing sites are near Roger & Sons.

Many of the city and DCA’s concerns stem from plans to develop and market the Cook Farm site. The city has long eyed the Cook Farm property for industrial development, but it’s placed limitations on what would be allowed there. The city would allow uses like manufacturing, which includes assembly, fabricating, processing treating, warehousing, baking and catering, along with minor fabrication/repair, auto service and more; however, the city’s vision bans any businesses with hazardous materials, dust or loud vibrations. The city wouldn’t accept asphalt crushing on Cook Farm and fears having it on an adjacent property could affect city plans.

“It does not allow the uses that they are requesting have a conditional use permit for,” Austin Planning and Zoning Administrator Holly Wallace.

However, the city’s vision for its Cook Farm site didn’t sway the county board. While the Roger & Sons is close to Austin, it’s on county property.

“It is outside the city limits, so the city zoning does not apply to it. It’s an industrial area. Everything around there is industrial,” Reinartz said.

Reinartz said if there are concerns about the Bastyr’s operation being detrimental to neighbors, then they’d have to deal with that as it comes up as the county enforces the 15 conditions stipulated in the permit.

Roger & Sons co-owner Sue Bastyr said they did a one-time crush and had no problems with dust or vibrations.

“This is very much a need for our business, and it is a recycling issue,” she said. “It’s something that we really do need.”

However, Lang countered by stating concerns voiced by the city were a key reason Roger & Sons did not receive a year-round permit earlier; however, Sue disagreed and said the business only had the need for a one-time crush.

Lang also said the Roger & Sons site is encroaching on the city property, which city officials saw as a sign that the business is outgrowing its current site.

“Additional crushing, stockpiling and the necessary equipment to do that, it’s only going to greater impact our Cook Farm property,” Lang said.

The board added a stipulation that the Bastyrs survey the property to ensure they are operating on their land only.

Despite the city’s request to deny the petition, the board opted to give the Bastyr family permission to move forward.

“At this point, I don’t really see any concern that should be forcing the Bastyrs to not utilize their property to its full extent,” Reinartz said.

“We respect your concerns, but the Bastyr property has been in business for how many years,” he added.

The business started in the 1960s.

Sue and her son, Joe, described asphalt/concrete crushing as a key way to recycle concrete and asphalt, which Joe said they can reuse or bury after it’s taken out.

“The crushing part of it, it’s a big demand from the contractors,” Sue said. “There’s really nobody else with Bustad going out.”

Roger & Sons likely won’t get the new service up until 2016.