Woodstock wants changes to Merryman permit

WOODSTOCK – City officials are headed back to the drawing board to review a special use permit awarded to Merryman Aggregates at the site of the future K-Nines baseball stadium.

The Planning Commission reviewed changes to 21 sections of the special use permit as was recommended by city staff earlier this month. Woodstock City Manager Tim Clifton said a decision was made to continue to adjust those amendments after the commission meeting, and he expected that the changes would be reviewed by the City Council next month.

“There are a number of issues that have to be resolved before the project can move forward, so we’ll be looking at all those – roadways, utilities, the whole gamut,” Clifton said.

Merryman Aggregates requested changing the permit to specify which road would serve as an entrance to the stadium.

The stadium was planned to be built near the intersection of Route 14 and Lake Shore Drive, and the special use permit originally required the entrance to be created on Lake Shore Drive.

Merryman Aggregates agreed to extend the road to Route 14 and make any necessary improvements, including adding turn lanes and traffic signals.

After a review, it was determined that an entrance at Doty Road, with the same road improvements, would make more sense, said Rick Zirk, Merryman Aggregates project manager.

Zirk, who represented the mining operation at the meeting, was opposed to many of the permit changes.

“What frustrated us was that in making that simple request to city ... they then came back [and said], ‘OK, we’ll approve the amendment, but here’s another 20 issues we want resolved,’ and most have significant costs associated with them,” Zirk said. “We’ll substitute one [entrance] for the other, but we just can’t accept a new deal with additional costs on it.”

Other changes included requiring that groundwater monitoring and testing be done once a month, rather than every quarter.

“I think it’s incumbent upon municipalities to constantly be reviewing various agreements that are made with individuals or developers that are aggressively pursuing projects in the city,” Mayor Brian Sager said.

He said the review was part of protocol and planning to ensure that projects were proceeding on time and that all terms of the agreement were met.

“It was part of the normal review process that we did that in the first place,” Sager said.

The Woodstock City Council approved the stadium plan with 50 conditions in December 2008. As part of the project, Merryman Aggregates was allowed to mine part of the 240-acre site.

The stadium would occupy about 38 acres.

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