Watson braces for potential gravel mining legal trouble

Watson Township, just like Wayland Township, soon may be in for some legal battles over gravel mining operations.

Northstar Aggregates, LLC and its sister company, USA Earthworks, LLC propose to mine 44.49 acres on a 77.74-acre parcel east of 13th Street and north of 117th Avenue in Watson Township. Matt and Ashley Double are listed as the applicants.

Township Attorney Tom Stiver told the Township Board Thursday night it may be wise to budget for a higher amount of insurance in the annual contract with Burnam & Flower.

He proposed that Watson boost the insurance contract amount by $350, from $5,039 to $5,389 annually to cover an additional $50,000 in potential legal fees in case Northstar, or disgruntled neighboring residents go to court.

“Either way, you guys are going to be the defendants,” Siver warned the board.

He added that it’s his impression that Northstar officials are “very aggressive” and the neighbors do not appear to be pleased with the company’s plans.

Battles over gravel mining operations in the past few years have become commonplace. Besides Watson, Wayland Township may be involved in troubles over a proposed mining operation on Fifth Street involving Nate Knight and George Watson. Knight applied for a special use permit, but withdrew it, anticipating the State Legislature to step in and give its blessing.

The Watson Planning Commission has been dealing with the issue even during the Coronavirus pandemic, according to Trustee Jack Wood, who is the board’s representative on the commission.


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