As the city of Morris approved new regulations for soil stockpiles in the city, a resident spoke to the council about a specific pile in Deer Ridge subdivision he said creates a “dangerous situation.”
The city council met Monday, approving a new ordinance from the Planning Commission putting restrictions on how long developers may allow stockpiles to be on property and at what distances from homes.
The soil stockpiles become an issue when they are created during construction and then left after the development is completed. For example, if someone owns two lots and is building on one of them, they often put the soil dug out at the construction site in a pile on the second lot. When the house is then finished, it is often left on the site.
Children play on the piles, and they are hard to mow. The piles become eyesores and nuisances, so the commission worked on an ordinance to get these piles — and other major piles larger developments use for mass grading — eliminated in a timely manner.
Phil Dinelli wanted to address with the council a 30-foot dirt pile that sits near Locust Road in Deer Ridge.
“I am concerned that there is no access between Rockwell Estates, Deer Ridge and Bristol Point,” he said.
It sits right where a potential future road is planned, he said, and, therefore, keeps the road from being finished, stopping residents from walking and biking through the neighborhoodsand keeping emergency personnel from being able to go through the neighborhoods for faster access to people in need rather than using U.S. 6.
“I am concerned if this developer ever asked permission or was granted permission to put this dirt pile in the clear path of a potential road,” said Dinelli. “I encourage the city to ask and/or demand that the developer move this dirt pile and, therefore, create a natural path connecting Locust Road within 30 days.”
Mayor Richard Kopczick explained the pile is on private property that the subdivision owns and, therefore, it does not need permission to put the stockpile there. Although there is a planned road there, with the downturn in the housing market, those plans have been delayed due to the lack of building in the subdivision at this time.
The road would be constructed by the developer once the demand is there, and when the road is constructed to city specifications, the road would be dedicated to the city. But until then, the city has no responsibility over it.
The longevity of this pile and others is concerning, Kopczick said, hence why the city looked at creating regulations.
On Tuesday, Debbie Donato of Deer Ridge said the dirt piles have been left untouched due to a halt in housing development.
“Future development and future sales will dictate all of that getting cleaned up,” she said.
Since this particular stockpile was existing before the ordinance, City Attorney Bradley Nolden of Scott Belt and Associates told the council Deer Ridge would have 12 months to remove the stockpile, but could go through an extension request with the city’s building and zoning department.
The ordinance approved Monday for new piles states non-mass grading piles shall not exceed six feet and shall be removed in six months or upon the issuance of an occupancy permit, whichever comes first. If a developer wants more time, they may request it of the building and zoning officer 60 days before the time limit expires.
For mass grading piles, it shall not exceed 15 feet, or two acres in area, and it should not be located within 300 feet of any developed lot.
An additional stipulation states the stockpile shall be removed within two years, or within 30 days after 50 percent of the lots platted in any final subdivision are built on or sold. The buildling and zoning officer can extend this as well. No stockpiles can remain after the completion of the last structure in a development.
These rules do not apply to stockpiles in connection with municipal or school projects, according to the ordinance.