Spring Grove area residents readying to fight a gravel pit that hasn’t sought permits yet

Land sits between Spring Grove, Fox Lake, is still being farmed

Ron and Linda Bryant stand in a farm field Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, near their home at 8219 Country Shire Lane in Fox Lake. The land was purchased by Super Aggregates to develop into a gravel pit, an idea the Bryants and their neighbors oppose.

Ron Bryant and his Fox Lake neighbors in the Sundial Farms subdivision are getting ready for a fight, working to ensure a gravel pit is not developed near their homes.

The person who bought the property, Jack Pease, chief operating officer of Super Aggregates, said that while he does have eventual thoughts of mining there, he is not sure what those neighbors are fighting.

He has not approached any municipality or county officials to annex the land or get the necessary permits, Pease said. He’s currently leasing the land back to the farmers he bought it from and has not finalized any plans.

“I am not sure what timeline will be” to develop the land for mining, Pease said, adding that it could be many years before a sand and gravel operation would open there.

After the land is mined out, the plan would be to reclaim the property and put in a housing development centered around the lake left behind.

A anti-gravel pit sign on Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in Spring Grove, near a farm field purchased by Super Aggregates to develop into a gravel pit.

The property lies east of the intersection of Main Street and Wilmot Road in unincorporated McHenry County.

Bryant and his wife, Linda, live at 8219 Country Shire Lane. Their mailing address is Spring Grove, but their home is in Fox Lake, and their backyard overlooks what is now unincorporated farmland, the land Pease bought for the mine.

In recent weeks, Bryant has written letters to Spring Grove officials, attended a Village Board meeting and met with village officials. He and others are working on a similar plan for Fox Lake and McHenry County officials.

“We have to work all three fronts,” Bryant said. “Spring Grove might stop it. Fox Lake might not stop it. McHenry County? I don’t know.”

So far, he has amassed 500 signatures from residents opposing a gravel pit, Bryant said.

One of those petition signatures came from Bryan Bellah. He and his wife closed on their Sundial Farms house on Nov. 8, but didn’t know until the day after moving in that a gravel pit could be coming.

“We had no idea. We were blindsided,” Bellah said.

Traffic drives past a farm field on Wilmot Road on Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in Spring Grove, which was purchased by Super Aggregates to develop into a gravel pit. The Bryants and their neighbors oppose the farm land being converted into a gravel pit.

He has some background in the effects mining for gravel can have. In Georgia, he worked with a family-owned chemical company that purchased a former mining site.

“We had to clean up groundwater” as part of that project, Bellah said. “I know firsthand (it) can cause detriment to people.”

B.J. Kukulka also added her name to the petition. Her house, which she moved into seven years ago, does not have a view of the possible gravel pit.

“I won’t see it. I will hear it, we will get dust from it and we will be impacted by the trucks on the highways and go on from there,” Kukulka said.

Her points of concern are similar to those laid out by the Bryants in their letter to the village of Spring Grove: groundwater impacts; noise, dust and light from the operation; negative affects on wildlife; increased truck traffic; and the potential effect on property values.

“The bottom line for all of these bullet points is the overall quality of life … and all of these things that are impacting it,” Kukulka said.

Ron Bryant looks out of his office window at a farm field Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, from their home at 8219 Country Shire Lane in Fox Lake. The land was purchased by Super Aggregates to develop into a gravel pit, an idea the Bryants and their neighbors oppose.

For Pease, the bottom line is that gravel pits are necessary for not just road construction, but for the houses, decks, in-ground pools and other necessities and luxuries people want or need.

McHenry County is a good place to mine because gravel is found in the moraines that were left behind when the glaciers receded following the last ice age, Pease said.

“You can’t go out to the middle of a farm field that is all clay” underneath the topsoil, Pease said. “That doesn’t get us the sand and stone we need.”

McHenry County Economic Development Corporation President Jim McConoughey said it’s important to having mining operations in “the right spot with support from the public,” the same public that also “wants roads that are smooth and easy to drive on and that means gravel mining.”

“The system and the process … allows people to have a voice and understand what the information is. We need the product and have an appropriate review process that is in place now” before permits are issued, McConoughey said.

Property for sale near a farm field on Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, in Spring Grove. The farm was purchased by Super Aggregates to develop into a gravel pit, an idea opposed by nearby residents.

Residents can see the results when there is a shortage in aggregates – the sand, gravel, limestone and rock needed for construction – when road projects are held up, he said.

“The market goes from Chicago north to the state line, from Lake Michigan to Rockford,” Pease said.

His company, Super Aggregates, operates nine mining operations: three in Wisconsin and six in northern Illinois, including in McHenry County, he said. By having gravel mines close to where the roads are built, it helps keep costs down.

Pease has met with Bryant and other residents to give them an idea of the scope of the proposed mining operations.

His plan is likely mining the gravel out of the site followed by remediation and then a housing development centered on a lake where they gravel once sat.

It’s the proximity to their homes and the potential for negative impacts on the neighbors that has Bryant concerned.

“I get his right to do (this) as a businessman,” he said. “There is gravel there. That is why they are going for it. (But) we are against gravel pits next to residential areas.”