Hillcrest Estate residents challenge Wellington city regarding gravel pit
The construction of a gravel pit in Wellington has turned the heads of many local residents who are currently seeking answers from the city's government.
During a regularly scheduled Wellington City Council meeting last Wednesday, attorney Eric Johnson represented a group of Hillcrest Estate residents who are questioning why the gravel facility was allowed to set up operation in a residential area near private homes.
Recently, Wellington officials agreed to allow the Circle K Ranch project to begin. The only problem according to Johnson is that the gravel pit is located on a residentially zoned piece of property.
Wellington council members argued at a prior meeting that, because a similar operation was once located on the parcel of land in question, the grandfather clause comes into affect.
Therefore, the council maintained that the current gravel production facility is operating legally.
But Hillcrest Estate residents disagree with the city's opinion in the matter.
During a public meeting conducted Jan. 14, the Wellington council had agreed to pass a cease and desist order.
The issuance of the order would mean that operation of the gravel plant would have to end until a resolution was decided upon.
According to Johnson, the order was to be issued to the contractor by Jan. 20. But no order had been handed out prior to last Wednesday's meeting.
According to mayor, Karl Houskeeper, the cease and desist order is scheduled to be served this week.
Because the order was not issued and disputes continue to mount regarding the gravel facility, Johnson indicated that a lawsuit has been filed against Wellington city and the owner of the operation.
"The gravel mine operation is in serious violation of the ordinance and is illegal and void as per law," contended Johnson at the Jan. 28 public meeting.
Members of the Wellington City Council refused to comment about the matter.
The mayor and council explained that Wellington officials had been advised by city attorney George Harmond not to make a statement regarding the situation.
"Legally, we can not discuss this matter," explained the mayor.
The mayor's comment brought up the question as to why the city attorney was not present at the public meeting.
"I have sent four letters to Mr. Harmond since the January 14 meeting and have not been contacted. That is why I bring matters to the council and not Harmond," claimed Johnson. "No comment from the council and the attorney will only go so far."
When the Sun Advocate contacted Harmond, the Wellington city attorney declined to comment on a matter under litigation.
At the public meeting, the council members stood firm and refused to comment about the gravel operation during the public meeting.
"What do the citizens of Wellington need to do to get the council's attention," questioned Johnson. "The Hillcrest residents waited for the city to act accordingly and when this didn't happen, they filed the injunction. By doing so, we have not taken power away from the city."
Although the matter was brought up during the public meeting, few questions were answered and many more became apparent. For now, it appears both sides remain deadlocked.