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DC committee recommends mining ordinance

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE — The Dunn County Planning, Resources and Development Committee has recommended that the Dunn County Board adopt the nonmetallic mining overlay district ordinance.

The PR&D committee held a public hearing on the proposed ordinance on October 9.

Prior to 2007, Dunn County allowed nonmetallic mining as a specially permitted land use in Agricultural 2 and 3 districts and in Industrial districts, said Scott Cox, Dunn County corporation counsel.

In 2007, the county revised the zoning ordinance so that nonmetallic mining was only allowed as a specially permitted use in Industrial zones, he said.

The proposed overlay district would allow industrial sand mines, mining operations for governmental use (such as road construction) and construction aggregate as a specially permitted use in A2, A3, and Industrial zones, Cox said.

Mining operations would have to apply for a special exception, and then the Zoning Board of Adjustment would hold a hearing, he said.

After the permit is issued, mines that are less than 25 acres can proceed, but all industrial mines would require a rezone to the overlay district, Cox said.

A rezone to Industrial is required for all nonmetallic mines greater than one acre, he said.

Townships would retain veto authority in the overlay district, Cox noted.

The overlay district requires a “heightened scrutiny” for mines that are 25 acres or larger and for industrial sand mines, he said.

The overlay district ordinance does not regulate where a mine is located, he said.

During the public hearing, a number of people spoke in favor of the proposed overlay district.

Cynthia Griffin, a resident in the Town of Stanton, noted that Stanton will be holding a referendum in November on whether the township should adopt county zoning.

Griffin said she supported the proposed overlay ordinance because it protects the public health and safety and also protects gravel pits that are used for construction aggregate.

R.J. Sikes of Vista Sand said that he had hoped the county would collaborate with mining companies to develop an ordinance that is workable for both the county and the mining companies.

Bob Walter, county board supervisor from Menomonie who has now been appointed as chair of the PR&D committee, said he disagreed that the mining companies had not been allowed an opportunity to speak about the proposed ordinance.

The PR&D committee has been working on the ordinance since April. All of the meetings were publicly noticed, and representatives for Vista Sand were always welcome to attend the meetings and to address the committee, he said.

“That qualifies that Vista was given an opportunity to participate,” Walter said.

The PR&D committee unanimously approved recommending that the Dunn County Board adopt the proposed nonmetallic mining overlay district ordinance.

In addition to Walter as the chair, county board supervisors Tom Quinn (Downing), Kitz Cleary (Colfax), and Gary Bjork (Colfax) serve on the PR&D committee.

Former committee chair Joe Plouff resigned his county board seat and moved out of the county, noted Steve Rasmussen of Boyceville, chair of the Dunn County Board.

The county board chair is a member of all committees, and since the PR&D committee had an open position, Rasmussen filled in on the day of the public hearing.

The Dunn County Board is expected to consider the proposed mining overlay ordinance at the October 17 meeting.