Scenic Pit operator issued four citations for alleged DNR violations Zoulek Family LLC faces possible fines totaling $60,000
By Joe VanDeLaarschot
RICHFIELD – The operators of the Scenic Pit cleanfill landfill in the village are scheduled to make an initial appearance in Washington County Circuit Court Feb. 6 at 8:15 a.m. after recently being issued four citations by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Danah Zoulek, who along with her family has operated Scenic Pit for about two years said she is "working diligently with the DNR and suppliers" to clean up the problem that she said is the reason for the citations. She said the citations were issued because the trucks coming and going into the landfill were tracking excess mud onto the village road.
Zoulek said once she has some customers pay their bills she will have enough money to purchase a FODS system which is a track-out control system to remove mud and sediment from large vehicle tires.
Zoulek said people continue to cut her fences, which allows her animals out of their enclosure. She said this has caused her to receive multiple prior citations.
"The (most recent) DNR citations were issued because the village is not happy with me. When a local government agency has unlimited resources to go after a business owner it makes it insanely hard for me to get things done," Zoulek said. "I can be fined $60,000 for the four citations – $15,000 a piece, if I contest them.
"If I agree to settle it could be $1,200 a piece," Zoulek said. "I just want to point out this all stems from complaints so it’s not as if the DNR on its own is coming out and inspecting. It is based on complaints from the village."
The DNR recently informed Zoulek and the village that they would soon be bringing in an environmental enforcement specialist to deal with the case.
Village Administrator Jim Healy said the village has been concerned from the beginning regarding the capacity of the property owner to run an operation that is compliant with DNR regulations.
"Recent news that Zoulek Family LLC continues to violate the few regulations that govern clean fill facilities is not surprising nor is the fact that they have received citations. We continue to field calls from our residents on almost a daily basis," Healy said. "The village will continue to monitor the situation and work with the DNR to ensure compliance.
DNR Communications Director Sarah Hoye said in an email the DNR’s construction site erosion control permits require landowners to install "best management practices," or BMPs, to help decrease the amount of sediment that pollutes Wisconsin’s waterways.
Hoye said citations are an enforcement tool that the DNR uses for violations of NR 216 construction erosion control permit requirements to protect water quality by compelling compliance.
"That said, due to the ongoing investigation and enforcement for this construction site, no specific information can be provided at this time," Hoye said.
Zoulek said she would like to know if the village has called the DNR to complain about other businesses or people in the village that have also been dragging mud onto village roads.
Danah Zoulek looks over the edge of the pit on her property near a new pile of clean fill that was dropped off in October 2017 at the site along Scenic Drive in Richfield. The Zoulek Family LLC, which operates the business, was recently issued four citations for violation of Department of Natural Resources regulations.