By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Property owners in Scott County are fighting a proposal to build a gravel pit near their homes.

S.M. Hentges and Sons Inc. is a construction company looking to build that gravel pit in Sand Creek Township. It wants to mine gravel on an 85-acre parcel of land.

But homeowners said it would be too close to Sand Creek, and they are worried about groundwater contamination.

“The neighborhood and the citizens have been really, really against it,” said homeowner Peggy Jo Dunnette.

Proposed site of S.M. Hentges and Sons' gravel pit (credit: CBS)

Proposed site of S.M. Hentges and Sons’ gravel pit (credit: CBS)

She is among those leading the charge against a plan to put a gravel pit near her property.

“The concern is that we are no longer in the year 1950, and we cannot treat our water this way,” Dunnette said.

Homeowners have been fighting the proposal for years, saying that digging a pit that could be 100-feet deep exposes the aquifer. And any flooding from nearby Sand Creek could contaminate wells and drinking water.

“It would be phosphates and nitrates and other agricultural run-off products that would be brought into this by Sand Creek flooding,” Dunnette said.

And she says it is not just water quality homeowners are worried about. They are worried about truck traffic on the country roads and the sound of crushing rock that comes with a gravel pit.

Scott County Commissioner Joe Wagner has watched the permit process for nearly five years, with opponents fighting it the whole way.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

“Gravel is everything. If you’re a road contractor, you need gravel for everything,” Wagner said. “It doesn’t fall from the sky, it’s got to be brought there and it has to come from somewhere.”

But while Wagner understands what S.M. Hentges and Sons Inc. wants to do, he still has several concerns of his own.

“The problem is Sand Creek is, quite honestly, it’s a very polluted stream. And any of that water that could possibly spill into that open pit is going to be a major problem,” Wagner said.

S.M. Hentges and Sons Inc. did not respond to our request for an interview.

There will be another meeting regarding the proposal this Tuesday in Scott County, and it is possible that a vote could also take place that morning.

John Lauritsen