By LeAnn R. Ralph
MENOMONIE — On a vote of 21 in favor and eight opposed, the Dunn County Board of Supervisors has approved the nonmetallic mining overlay district to regulate frac sand mining within the county.
The Dunn County Board approved the ordinance for a second reading at the November 13 meeting.
The county board received a copy of the ordinance and accepted it for a first reading in October.
Bob Walter, chair of the Dunn County Planning, Resources and Development Committee, noted that it had been brought to the committee’s attention at a meeting the morning of November 13 that the ordinance’s hours of operation clause also would apply to agricultural machinery and activities.
“That is absolutely false. The ordinance applies to industrial sand mining only,” Walter emphasized.
The Dunn County Board passed a six-month moratorium on industrial sand mining last December to give county officials time to review regulations to make sure the health, safety and welfare of county residents are protected.
The county board extended the moratorium at the end of July for three months to allow the PR&D committee time to finish the nonmetallic mining ordinance.
“I am pleased that we have developed a balanced approach to regulating an industry in Dunn County,” Walter said, adding that he wanted to give credit to Joe Plouff, who was the PR&D committee chair for much of the time that the committee worked on the mining ordinance.
Plouff moved out of Dunn County not long ago.
Several county board supervisors said they objected to the mining ordinance, either because the county did not need to regulate sand mining or because the ordinance “went too far.”
Protecting the health, safety and welfare of county residents is important, but the county needs to trust the Board of Adjustment and state Department of Natural Resources to adequately regulate sand mining in the county, said Jim Anderson, county board supervisor from Menomonie.
Under the new nonmetallic mining overlay district, the Board of Adjustment must approve a special exception/conditional use permit for a frac sand mine and has the authority to impose conditions.
The mining ordinance “reaches a little farther than I would like … we need protections, but we are going farther than necessary,” Anderson said.
Donald Krause, county board supervisor from New Auburn, agreed with Anderson.
Fairmount Minerals/Wisconsin Industrial Sand has been a good neighbor, Krause said.
The overlay district ordinance sets “high hoops” and sand mines will “bypass Dunn County,” Krause said.
The sand mining ordinance is a “job killing” ordinance, Krause said, adding that he wanted a roll call vote “so people would know who (on the county board) was against jobs.”
Jerome (Pete) Prochnow, county board supervisor from Menomonie, noted that the overlay district ordinance does not apply to Fairmount Minerals.
Scott Cox, Dunn County corporation counsel, confirmed Prochnow’s statement.
Fairmount Minerals can continue their operations “as is,” and the company is not subject to the new regulations, Cox said.
David Bartlett, county board supervisor from Boyceville, said he liked the ordinance but also thought maybe it went “too far.”
The sand mines have brought “economic growth to Chippewa County. They are not all bad, but they need regulation,” Bartlett said.
Donald Kuether, county board supervisor from Menomonie, said the county and its residents needed protection from the “fly-by-night” sand mining operations.
The ordinance is “a good way to vet and sort. The ordinance is for citizen protection rather than job killing,” he said.
Alec Kirby, county board supervisor from Menomonie, noted that he is new to the county board and to the PR&D committee.
After all of the work of the PR&D committee and comments from residents of the county, the ordinance is a “consensus document,” he said.
“It was developed on compromise, and as with all compromise, not everyone is entirely happy,” Kirby said.
Kirby disagreed that the ordinance would push away business.
Policies and regulations will ensure the long-term sustainable economic health and prosperity of the county, he said.
If the costs associated with sand mining are passed on to citizens of the county — such as road repair and the cost of clean-up if wash ponds or stormwater ponds fail — then the business costs end up being paid by the taxpayers, Kirby said.
How they voted
The following Dunn County Board supervisors voted in favor of the nonmetallic mining overlay district: Gary Bjork (Colfax; PR&D committee); Calvin Christianson (Menomonie); Kitz Cleary (Colfax; PR&D committee); Richard Creaser (Menomonie); Paul DeLong (Menomonie); Don Francis (Menomonie); Dale Harschlip; Vaughn Hedlund (Boyceville); Sarah Kennedy (Menomonie); Alec Kirby (Menomonie; PR&D committee); Chuck Maves (Boyceville); Donald Kuether (Menomonie); Kelly McCullough (Menomonie); Jill Noreen (Menomonie); Tom Quinn (Downing; PR&D); Steve Rasmussen (Boyceville; chair of the Dunn County Board); Gary Seipel (Eau Galle); Mary Solberg (Menomonie); Sheila Stori (Menomonie); James Tripp (Menomonie); Bob Walter (Menomonie; chair of the PR&D committee).
The following Dunn County Board supervisors voted against the nonmetallic mining overlay district: Elton Christopherson (Elk Mound); Donald Krause (New Auburn); Jerome Prochnow (Menomonie); David Schaefer (Menomonie); Gary Stene (Colfax); Pete Wiese (Menomonie); Jim Anderson (Menomonie); David Bartlett (Boyceville).