County approves gravel-crushing permit for old airfield at Devil Track

On May 21, the Cook County Planning Commission faced a difficult decision, because it involved potential financial impacts to either road contractor Ulland Brothers or Devil Track Resort/The Landing Restaurant.
Ulland Brothers was the low bidder on the contract to reconstruct a 1.4-mile portion of County Road 8 (Devil Track Road). The company’s bid included a proposal to crush gravel on the old airstrip beside Devil’s Track Lake this summer.
Planning & Zoning Department sent out 43 letters of notification and heard back from six sets of neighbors who expressed opposition to the potential noise and dust.
Some residents said the gravel crushing project seems like insult added to injury after KGM Contractors was unable to finish its project last summer because of scheduling changes related to the state government shutdown. Motorists say the sharp gravel laid down in the meantime led to a lot of tires popping on the road.
LaVigne said she understood that both she and Ulland Brothers had the same goal—to meet customer needs and make money.  “I am absolutely for progress,” she said. She indicated that crushing near her 
business at the height of the summer season as proposed, however, could really cut into her business.  “It would impede my business in every way,” she said.  “This is the time when I make 80 percent of my income.”  She said she couldn’t take a reservation for that time period and allow people to think they would be coming for a quiet, 
peaceful vacation.
Even though a mist will be sprayed during the crushing, Anderson said there would still be dust from the piles themselves and from transporting the gravel.  She questioned whether runoff might pollute the lake.  Planning & Zoning Administrator Bill Lane said environmental issues would be addressed by a required Minnesota Pollution Control Agency permit as well as the conditions his department was recommending for the requested Interim Use Permit.
Ryan Swanson of Ulland Brothers said he always tries to find the site closest to the job for gravel operations.  It’s more environmentally friendly because it uses less truck fuel, he said.Planning Commissioner Jerry Hiniker said road projects do have a lot of impact, but the end result is good.  “It’s a complicated situation,” he said.T

Tim Grahek suggested that they consider using the east end of the  runway instead of the west and build a berm between the crushing  operation and the neighbors. John Barton made a motion to allow gravel 
crushing on the east end of the runway with a berm of stockpiled 
gravel between the operation and the neighboring business and homes.  
Operations would be allowed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The motion passed 5-1 with resort owner Sherry Baker casting the nay 
vote.  Voting aye were Alan “D.C.” Olsen, Gerry Gervais, Dave 
Tuttle, John Barton, and Jerry Hiniker.
The following day, the county board reviewed the Planning 
Commission’s recommendation.  Although some board members expressed 
sympathy for LaVigne’s plight, they said they felt it was necessary.
A motion approving the Interim Use Permit was passed unanimously.
Other projects going on in the same area this summer will be KGM 
Construction finishing up the portion of road east of the airport road 
and Northland Constructors working on the airstrip.