Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Sand Mine Bill Hearing Is Thursday

Sen. Tom Tiffany, chairman of the committee on workforce development, forestry, mining and revenue, is holding a hearing Thursday at 9:30 a.m., about local regulation of nonmetallic mining, air quality, water quality, local use of explosives in mining, quarrying, highway contracts and regulation of borrow sites and material disposal sites for transportation projects. It is in 411 South.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Proposed State Sand Mine Bill Would Limit Town Board Powers

Little Falls town board hearing on sand mining last summer
A proposed bill that would take away a tool that townships have used to regulate sand mining is getting a thumbs down from local town officials as well as the head of the Wisconsin Towns Association.

"I think it stinks," said Wayne Tuchalski, chairman of the planning commission for the Town of Little Falls, which has an ordinance governing sand mines.

"I think it's a bad idea to take away power from the townships," said Gail Chapman, chairman of the town of Adrian. Chapman said he had sold land to a sand mine.

"I oppose this very much, it just don't make any sense that they'd want to step in now," said Steve Witt, former town chair of the Town of Greenfield. Witt was instrumental in negotiating an ordinance that includes payments of $250,000 annually to the town based on the mine's production, said:

Witt said that he was "90%" sure that the town's agreement with Unimin would stand even if the bill passes.

And Rick Stadelman, executive director and attorney for the Wisconsin Towns Association, said that the association was having a conference call today about the bill and that he would recommend opposing it.

"Clearly the pre-emption of local control is something we can't agree with," Stadelman said. "There are several provisions that cause great concern to us based on the pre-emption of local control."

Stadelman said that the implications of the bill extend beyond sand mining.

LRB 3146, proposed by Sen. Tom Tiffany, (R) would limit townships' abilities to regulate nonmetallic mining, the category into which sand mining falls. According to an analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau, towns will not be able to enact an ordinance  that applies to nonmetallic mining, unless it were through a zoning ordinance or a nonmetallic mining reclamation ordinance. Thirteen of the 24 townships in Monroe County do not have zoning, meaning the law would eliminate their ability to regulate sand mining.

Licensing ordinances have been a highly effective way for municipalities to regulate sand mining. The town of Little Falls is one example of a township that has used licensing as a way to regulate a sand mind that Mathy Construction is building in the town.

Tuchalski, who was instrumental in creating the Little Falls sand mining ordinance, said that one of its most important provisions is water quality.

"Our ordinance was that no sand mine can come in and undermine the water table," he said. "If they pass that bill, that'll be exempt. And if we don't have decent water up here, no one can live."

Concerned? Here's contact information for your state representatives:

Monroe County
Sen. Jennifer Shilling 608-266-5490sen.shilling@legis.wisconsin.gov
Sen. Julie Lassa, 608-266-3123, sen.lassa@legis.wisconsin.gov
Amy Sue Vruwink, 608-266-8366, Rep.Vruwink@legis.wisconsin.gov

La Crosse County

Jackson County 
Senator Kathleen Vinehout, (608) 2668546,sen.vinehout@legis.wisconsin.gov
Amy Sue Vruwink, 608-266-8366, Rep.Vruwink@legis.wisconsin.gov
Chris Danou, (608) 266-7015Rep.Danou@legis.wisconsin.gov

If you're outside those areas, please go to http://legis.wisconsin.gov/pages/waml.aspx and punch in your zip code to find out who your senator and representatives are. 

Click here for additional coverage.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Little Falls Requires Sand Mine to Protect Property Values

Little Falls Sand Mine Meeting, June 13
Sand mining is going through an evolution in Monroe County as townships learn lessons from their neighbors.

The Town of Little Falls sand mine ordinance and agreement with Mathy Construction, which is building a 100-acre sand mine in the town, offers residents of Little Falls and neighboring New Lyme more protections than other sand mine agreements in the county. 

It spent a year developing its license and can offer residents protection on water and property values, hot button issues for sand mines' neighbors. It is requiring Mathy Construction to not only protect the water of residents of the town of Little Falls, but the residents in the town of New Lyme, which abuts the sand mine, as well.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

La Crosse Tribune Puts Jorgenson Dilemma on Page One

The La Crosse Tribune is covering the Jorgensen farm's water dilemma in a page one story. It points out that the mine's conditional use permit provided by the city of Sparta--which annexed the land the mine sits on to make it easier for the mine to acquire the necessary permits for its opertaion--requires the mine to make good on any negative impacts its operations have on other wells.

U.S. Silica is drilling a new well--but not admitting that its well caused the problem.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sand Mine Turns on Well, Neighboring Farm Loses Water

U.S. Silica began pumping water three months ago from a well it drilled a year ago on its sand mine
Jorgenson Farm/Marcus Frazee photo
in Sparta, Wis., and last week, a nearby dairy farm's artesian well went dry. The farm, owned by Ardis Jorgenson, a 78-year-old widow,  and operated by her son, Dale, has been drawing water from that well for more than a century. Saturday, that well produced no water; the Jorgenson's more than 100 head of cattle started bellowing in distress.

Dale Jorgenson began a desperate scramble for water. The Jorgenson's have an interim water supply, city water brought in by milk truck, but no long term solution.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Behind the Berm at Tunnel City

Bessie Kmiecik photos of the Unimin mine in Tunnel City. To see full screen, click the arrow, then click on the four arrows in the lower right corner of the image. This is what's behind the berm.

If you can't see the slide show, click here to link to it.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Bird's Eye View

Here are three major Monroe County sand mines, the bird's eye view!!

Photos by Bessie Kmiecik
To see the photos enlarged, please click on the read more button below.