Columbus council meets with applicants for further sand hauling

Forest Lake Contracting wants until 2018 to finish excavation


Paul Rignell
Columbus Reporter

Families living south of the John’s Black Dirt site, including neighbors on Tulane and Vassar streets and 181st Avenue Northeast, have no more certainty in early April than they had in March regarding how many trucks full of sand might run on their roads this summer.

Those residents finally did get a chance, however, to witness their city officials interact with the past site user that wishes to resume hauling. Forest Lake Contracting President Dan Vollhaber and Vice President Bob Vollhaber met with the council in a workshop March 26. The company seeks to hammer out a new statement of understanding with the city, since the previous one has expired.

The families on Tulane and Vassar streets could expect to get all future hauling on their roads, as the Vollhabers said they do not intend to seek alternate routes. They added that they do not plan to challenge the city of Wyoming’s decision from 2013 to effectively close hauling from the site on 250th Street; that road becomes 189th Avenue in Columbus, which connected with a northern entrance to the John’s Black Dirt site and was the common exit for haulers before last summer.

Council Member Jeff Duraine asked March 26 if the company could wrap up all digging within one season. Bob Vollhaber said that was unlikely. It is yet unknown whether 2014 will bring a longer work season with an early spring and late fall, and when the company is hired for projects, they are not scheduled until about a month in advance, Vollhaber added.

He said it could be possible for Forest Lake Contracting to limit its hauling to three seasons or even a maximum of 120 days, but that the company would need to leave its end date five years from now – in summer 2018 – due to uncertainty with weather and the length of job seasons.

The company is expected back before the council Wednesday, April 9, for review of the interim use permit.


The Vollhabers’ company in 2010 had an estimated 100,000 cubic yards of sand hauled from an eastern portion of the property.

The company extracted more sand from the site in 2013 and hauled it to job sites, operating on terms of a conditional use permit and a new statement of understanding with the city of Columbus. Last year’s digging and hauling reduced the estimated sand available for Forest Lake Contracting from 490,000 to 340,000 cubic yards.

The statement of understanding expired Dec. 31, and the hauling company approached the city with an application for a new interim use permit in February.

The company asked for five years to remove all remaining sand and then remediate the land for future residential development. They pledged to limit hauling to an estimated 10 hours daily on weekdays and another eight hours on up to 10 Saturdays in one year.

Some neighbors have said they want the city to end all hauling from the site.