Another gravel pit approved in Wadena County

Pit to provide 36,000 yards of gravel material annually

WADENA — Gravel extraction along 170th Street, Wadena, was approved by the county board, but the location kicked up some dust from a neighboring property owner.

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Gravel extraction along 170th Street, Wadena was approved by the county board.<br/>
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During the Wadena County Board meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 6, Richard Denny, who owns property adjacent to the gravel pit location, expressed concern the operation would devalue his property, decrease outdoor living quality and increase traffic. While he moved there to enjoy retirement, he said the noise of the operation will make it less enjoyable.

He further expressed that the gravel operation would not meet at least one of the questions of a Conditional Use Permit — "that it will not be injurious to the use and enjoyment of other property in the immediate vicinity for the purposes already permitted, nor substantially diminish and impair property values within the immediate vicinity." The planning commission did not agree.

Denny sought out opinions from Wadena area realtors and three shared that in their opinion the operation would substantially diminish neighboring property values. Those opinions were shared with the planning commission and county board.

“It’s like cutting the baby in half, no one will be happy (with a compromise), it just won’t work,” Denny said in regards to truck traffic increase expected along his road. He noted there would be an expected 2,000 semi loads of gravel hauled near his home annually.


The Wadena County Board heard Denny’s concerns and reviewed the county’s planning commission recommendation to approve the conditional use permit for the gravel pit operation application from Kevin and Erik Uselman, who have a Pillager address.

After both sides were considered, the board approved the conditional use permit for the gravel pit in a 3-1 vote. Commissioners Murlyn Kreklau, Jon Kangas and Sheldon Monson approved, while Mike Weyer opposed. Commissioner Bill Stearns was absent.

Weyer stated he felt the business would impact values of neighboring landowners. He noted Denny provided opinions of three real estate agents on the impact to the planning commission.

Kreklau was in favor of the conditional permit request. He noted not approving it may impact businesses that need the material.

Details about the operation discussed

Details about the gravel pit and its operation were discussed by the county planning commission at its meeting on Thursday, Aug. 18. According to meeting minutes, some items discussed included setbacks, amounts of gravel to be hauled from the site and truck traffic.

It was noted the pit would be required to maintain a 100-foot setback from adjoining properties. Randy Becker was stated to be a representative of the gravel pit in attendance at the planning commission, and reportedly said he would order a survey if required.

Tom Marquette, owner of Wadena Asphalt, was also paraphrased in the planning commission meeting minutes discussing truck traffic at the gravel pit. The commission minutes stated, his trucking company expects to haul $100,000 of material per year, as that is what was budgeted. Marquette said that amount equals about “36,000 yards” of gravel material per year. Marquette said he estimated they would be hauling gravel for a total of about two months annually.


The minutes stated Marquette’s plan for moving gravel material would include one week of hauling material, followed by a transition of digging for more material, before hauling would again commence.

“So it would not be continuous,” he was recorded as saying in the planning commission meeting minutes.

One idea brought up among planning commission members was that not approving the CUP could prove injurious to the Uselmans' property who planned to use the property to sell gravel. Approving it could be injurious to the neighbors, "but at the same time, the noise, and dust will only be an effect during the actual time the pit is being used and within a time limit," planning board minutes read.

Marquette also noted when the opposing landowner purchased his property there was a gravel pit across the road and operated for several years. Denny said that in his 20 years at the property, that gravel pit area has been inactive and they were unaware it even existed upon purchase of the property.

During the county board meeting, it was also stated the operation of the gravel pit would be between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., five days a week and work would be confined to “roughly 5 acres,” as a new permit would be needed if it exceeded those boundaries.

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