Monday, July 13, 2015

An Open Letter to the Village of Cary

Dear Mayor Kownick, Village Trustees and Village Officials:

I would like to make a clarification regarding the last Village Board meeting of July 7, 2015 concerning Meyer Material Company and their annual report.  Trustee Dudek stated near the end of the discussion that there have “not been any complaints” regarding the gravel pit located next to the Fox Trails subdivision.

This is plainly not true.

I made two complaints early in the process. One of the complaints was regarding the building of the berm and the other was a complaint regarding the failure to cease operations after the 7:30 deadline. Neither complaint, as far as I know, was ever addressed, as I never heard back from the Village.

But that is not all. Several residents issued complaints between 2008 and 2012. For one resident, Cam Davis told her that the noise she was hearing was not from the pit but from “somewhere else.”  Some people I know complained about the sound of firearms from the pit.

All you need to do is look back on the minutes from the Zoning Board meeting of November 10, 2011 and you will see several complaints by residents that are part of the official record:
  • One resident complained about the mud in his pool from all of the dust
  • ATVs and snowmobiles running the berm. One resident described it as the “Indy 500 day and night”
  • A complaint about “lack of security” along the berm
  • Complaints about furnaces becoming clogged due to dust and particulates
  • Unable to open windows because of the dust
  • Decline in home values
Although not a resident of Cary, the business owner of Trinity Auto also made a statement regarding the extra money he has had to shell out due to the amount of dust from the pit in order to clean the cars in his lot.

The fact of the matter is that Fox Trails residents know that they have to put up with the realities of living next to a pit for a certain amount of time. As a result, many people may not have issued formal complaints.  They have just been waiting for it all to end by June 1, 2016.

My point is this: the perception that there have not been complaints regarding the pit is just plain false. Perhaps those in the previous administrations did not keep adequate records, I don’t know. Even so, a perceived lack of complaints does not mean that everybody is happy with the pit.

We were just hoping for it all to end by June 1, 2016. And they haven’t even started mining the sectors close to Fox Trails. That is yet to come.

Thank you for your time.


Bruce Janu
Knollwood Dr

No Complaints, Mr. Dudek? Not True

At the last village board meeting, Rick Dudek made a comment that was echoed by some of the other trustees.  "There has not been one complaint" about the gravel pit, he stated.

This is simply not true. There have been complaints made about the pit.  I made a couple of complaints myself several years ago regarding the noise when they were working on the berm and later when they were working past the time when they should have ceased operations.

Others have as well.  In fact, one resident was belittled by Cam Davis, the former Village Administrator, telling her that the noise that was coming from the pit was actually not coming from the pit.  She had made three official complaints to the Village regarding the noise, but no action was made by Cam Davis or anyone else in Village government.

I am not sure any of these complaints were actually recorded.  I never received a follow-up for mine, that is for sure.

But the last time Meyer came asking for an extension, residents stood up before the zoning board and complained about dust and noise.  People complained about having to frequently wash windows and replace furnace filters.  People talked about dust blanketing backyard picnic tables.

  • One resident complained about the dust and mud in his pool during the summer
  • Another resident said that they had to replace furnace filters so often the repair man told them not use filters or it could ruin the furnace because so much dust was clogging it
  • "My backyard is an Indy 500 night and day," said one resident regarding the atv's and snowmobiles using the berm at all hours with little security

So yes, Rick "There-Have-Been-No-Complaints" Dudek, complaints have been made over the last 7 years.

And let's not forget some of the businesses located along Route 31. The owner of Trinity Auto even spoke at a zoning board meeting in 2011 regarding the dust that was blanketing his cars and how he spends $3000 extra a year just keeping his cars looking good.  Meyer had stated that they would help compensate businesses for any adverse effects the pit had on their operations. But, at that time, Meyer had done nothing.

But all of this really doesn't matter.  The fact is Meyer has not yet started mining the cells directly next to the Fox Trails subdivision.

With the agreement in place, residents gritted their teeth and prepared themselves to be inconvenienced until the agreed-upon date: June 1, 2016.  Therefore, many residents may not have complained.  They have just been waiting for it to end.

And now, if Meyer gets its way, they will have to wait three more least.

If you live in Fox Trails and would like to share your experience living next to the pit, please send an email in the comment form on the right, documenting what life is like living next to the pit.  We are currently making a little documentary about the pit and Fox Trails.  If you would like to be involved, please let me know.

Thank you.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Village Board Meeting--Tuesday July 7, 2015

So the board meeting tonight went as expected.  Two people spoke about Meyer, including myself. Meyer presented their annual report, which emphasized all of their "obligations" and their corporate citizenship, such as Cub Scout trips where, it was said, the kids could visit "nature in your backyard." I wouldn't classify a gravel pit as nature, but okay.  They talked about the impact fees that they pay to the Village and how the economic downturn really took a toll on the business.  Same things we heard back in 2011-12.

The two Meyer representatives, Randi Wille and Ron Raupp, spent a great deal of time talking about the challenges of mining in the parcels. The overburden, they claim, has been a problem, causing them to actually pile the extra overburden on the north side of the property, bordering Hoffman Park, as seen below.

The pile of overburden in the Meyer gravel pit.
And, due to the overburden and the inconsistency of the gravel deposits, the lake will actually be smaller than expected. Originally, they estimated the lake being about 94 acres. Now, they expect it to be 89-90 acres......if they get the extension.  If not, the lake will be about 77 acres or so but with more land surrounding it.

As for the financial committment, Meyer said they were willing to continue paying the current fees. Surprisingly, Dudek said that they should "sharpen their pencils" and come with a better offer.

Covelli then asked, for the sake of the Fox Trails residents, if there was "nothing above and beyond" the current fees---after all, they could be subjected to penalties.  And Mr.Wille replied "No" and clarified that with the impact fees they are already paying enough.  He and Covelli went back and forth a little and said he'd take it back to the management team.

Chapman and McAlpine both commented on how they loved the tour and that Meyer did a really great job of explaining everything to them.

Kraus made the suggestion that if they stop mining in 2016, then perhaps Cary could build a hotel or something on that extra land.

Dudek then stated that there have been no complaints from residents at all, therefore there shouldn't be a problem with the extension.  However, what complaints was he hoping to get? Fox Trails residents are not complaining about the noise or the dust because there is nothing that can be done: we live next to a gravel pit.  We know that there is going to be dust and noise---but we expect that to be done by June 1, 2016.  More on this ridiculous point in a later post.

In the end, it was only Covelli and Cosler who voted "no" on reducing the letters of credit for Meyer and that passed without a problem.  I even was lectured on what a "letter of credit" is by Dudek.  For some reason he thought I believed that the letters of credit were penalties. They're not, but they do serve as collateral.  And they are part of the deal that was struck in 2008.

The most telling moment came during the discussion when Chapman announced that the pit is a "significant part of the Village budget."  There it is.  The bottom line.

One thing that did happen was Jim Cossler (via a speaker- phone as he was out of town on business) speciffically asked me if I had any comments after the presentation and I was allowed to speak.  I reiterated that a deal is a deal. But I also mentioned the fact that everybody has gotten a tour and a detailed explaination of the pit operations, except Fox Trails residents.

Meyer was open to providing some tours for Fox Trails residents.  So that may be in our future.

My Remarks at the Cary Board Meeting

Here are my remarks at the Cary Board Meeting in regard to Meyer material and their annual presentation and the forthcoming request for an extension:

My name is Bruce Janu.  I live in the Fox Trails subdivision.  I am here to speak for a moment about Meyer Material Company.  As you know, they are wanting to extend the conditional use permit.  We all knew that they were never going to finish on time---we said this over and over again back in 2007-08.  In 2011, they came to ask for an extension, claiming that the economic downturn has prevented them from finishing on time.  They ended up withdrawing the petition and here we are with one year left--conveniently---and Meyer is asking again. With new reasons.

Now, there's too much dirt.   There's not enough time, because of the limits placed on their mining operations that they had originally agreed to.  

However, some things to consider:  Since withdrawing the petition, Meyer has not added more heavy equipment to the property.  Has not increased the workforce. Has not made any attempt to finish on time.  They're just expecting to be given the extension. That was the plan all along.

What I find interesting is that in the original deal, they sought a 2 year timeframe to reclaim the land. Now, they are going to do it in one year. They can speed that up, but not the mining?  Seems a little suspect to me. 

In their report, they are going to talk about how a good corporate citizen they are---by allowing kids to visit on field trips and maintaining parks and what not. Don't forget, this good corporate citizen has threatened to walk away from the property leaving it as is if they don't get what they want. Yeah, that's good corporate citizenship. 

And now they want to reduce the amount of money in their letters of credit?  I don't think that would be a smart thing for the Village to do. I cannot just stop paying my mortgage because of an economic downturn....or too much dirt in my lawn.  That is why we have contracts in the first place and the residents of Fox Trails can not be responsible for their bad decisions.  

And remember, Meyer is owned by a global corporation that sees over 16 billion dollars in revenue every year.  

This is going to be a long process, we know.  But we cannot start this process by reducing their economic burden. Vote no on the reduction of the amount in their letters of credit.  Thank you for your time, you'll be seeing more of me, I'm sure. More information can be found at

I attempted to video record these comments, but my iPad froze as I went up to the podium.  Next time...

Monday, July 6, 2015

Meyer Material....Round 3

Meyer Material is presenting their annual review at the Village of Cary board meeting on Tuesday, July 7, 2015.  This review is going to set-up a request by Meyer to get an extension on their conditional use permit to continue mining until 2019.

According to the conditional use permit that Meyer agreed to back in 2008, they would mine next to the Fox Trails subdivision until June 1, 2016.  Any time over that deadline, Meyer would be subjected to $100,000 per month fine.

The fact of the matter: Meyer can't finish and doesn't want to live up to its end of the bargain.

They tried this back in 2012 and, after not receiving the blessing of the zoning board, they withdrew the petition.

Since then, Meyer Material has not added additional equipment or workers to get the job done in time and is just expecting to get the extension.

Back in 2012, Meyer claimed the economic downturn made it impossible for them to finish in time.  Now, they are claiming that in addition to the economy, there are two more reasons why they can't finish in time:

  • "Unanticipated overburden volumes." In other words, too much dirt on top of the gravel.
  • "Operational hours." This is great. They are complaining that the agreement they made to mine during the week from 7:30 am to 7:30 pm has placed too much of a burden on their ability to complete the mining in time.
Should the residents of Cary be responsible for the business decisions of Meyer Material? They supposedly did core samples of the overburden back pre-2008.  Did they not do enough? If they couldn't get the mining done during the time allotted, why did they agree to the permit in the first place?

Also, we have to remember that Meyer Material is owned by Aggregate Industries, which is owned by Holcim, Ltd.  Holcim is a multinational corporation headquartered in Switzerland and operates in over 70 countries.  In 2013, Holcim's revenue was over $16 billion.

In its presentation to the board, Meyer Material will claim to be a "good corporate citizen." They'll talk about giving science tours to kids and maintaining Cary parks.

It all comes down to this: Meyer Material (aka Holcim, Ltd) doesn't want to pay its fines and has threatened to walk away from the site leaving it as is.  This is not an example of a "good corporate citizen."

In the end, Meyer should live up to its original agreement and pay the fines they agreed to back in 2008.  If they break it, they should be sued for breach of contract.  All of us have been affected by the economic turndown but we can't simply change the terms of our mortgages. Neither should Meyer.

In addition to wanting an extension to its mining operation, Meyer is also asking the Village for a reduction in the amount of credit they need to provide for Land Conservation and the Impact Fees. Why they want this is unknown. Click here to see the documentation.

As the Village ponders the requests Meyer is making, these points need to be considered:

  • What's to stop Meyer from asking for another extension in 2019?  And another after that?
  • If the extension is granted, will Meyer be financially penalized for not living up to the deal? Getting extensions should not be a rubber-stamp. 
  • Since 2008, the Consumer Price Index has increased about 9%. Therefore, the $250,000 that Meyer pays the village every year is no longer worth $250,000.  This should be addressed.
  • If Meyer is threatening to walk away from the site if it doesn't get its way, why lower the amount in the letters of credit? Shouldn't the Village better protect itself from that action?
  • Originally, Meyer stated that they need two years to reclaim the land and turn it into a park. Now, they say they can do it in a year.  How so? Why can they speed up that process but not the mining?
As we stated back in 2008, Meyer was never going to live up to this deal in the first place. We said that over and over again. A quick scan of news headlines indicates that this is a common occurance in the gravel industry across the country.

It is time to stop caving into the desires of a multinational corporation. It is time to hold them accountable.


If you would like to view the Meyer presentation, click here.

If you would like to read the original agreement, click here.

Meyer will be presenting this information at the Village Board meeting on Tuesday, July 7. The meeting begins at 7:30 pm.

In the meantime, let your Village Trustees know what you think about the matter. You can send a message via Cary Connection on Facebook, or email them directly.  Be aware that many village trustees do not use village emails, but their own personal email accounts in order to not be required to keep a paper trail.  So it is recommended that you save any correspondence you may have with Village trustees.

Mayor Mark Kownick (
Trustee David Chapman (
Trustee Jim Cosler (
Trustee Kimberly Covelli (
Trustee Duane (Rick) Dudek (
Trustee Jeffery Kraus (
Trustee Ellen McAlpine (