Proposed ordinance does not protect majority of residents from effects of frac sand mining
Thursday, November 29, 2012 4:54 AM
To the handful of big landowners and county officials who will win the frac sand lottery, congratulations. Many more residents of Fillmore County fear the risks frac sand mining poses to our property values, air and water quality, noise levels, road safety and wear, tourism, farming and scenic landscapes. Not to mention the downstream impacts to communities to which this sand is ultimately shipped.
The county's proposed industrial mining ordinance offers some assurances, but ignores a host of reasonable protections requested by residents. For example, despite multiple requests to cap the number of industrial mines that can operate simultaneously in a single township, the Planning Commission (PC) advised residents to seek that protection from their townships. So the process has to be repeated more than 20 times by more than 20 different groups of people? Do residents even know who their township ordinance makers are? Is this efficient government?
For mines to potentially operate 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays seems excessive to the many residents and visitors who value this county's peace and quiet. Requests to further cap mine hours of operation seemed to also be ignored by the PC.
Several weeks ago, Tom Barnes sent the PC the language a Wisconsin county included in their ordinance to require mining corporations to ensure no loss of pre-mining property values within a certain radius of their mine. It is an excellent incentive for the corporation to operate responsibly. All our county officials had to do was copy and paste, but they did not.
When leaders fail to protect the interests of the majority of residents, you begin to question whether financial conflicts of interest are weakening our democratic process. Hopefully the county board will show greater leadership at its Nov. 27th meeting.