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GC plan commission recommends mining zone

By LeAnn R. Ralph

GLENWOOD CITY — The Glenwood City Plan Commission is recommending that the city council adopt a mining zone classification to allow nonmetallic mining within the city limits along with other zoning changes related to mining.

The plan commission met February 27 to discuss the new zoning classification along with other zoning ordinance changes including the setting of a zoning district during annexation, removing reclamation and mining from the agricultural district, and adding nonmetallic mining as a conditional use in the agricultural district.

 Glenwood City’s existing zoning ordinance allows nonmetallic mining in the agricultural district on a landowner’s property as a conditional use for the landowner but does not allow a third party to do nonmetallic mining, said Tom Griesheimer, an attorney with the law firm of Bakke Norman who was filling in for the city’s attorney, Terry Dunst.

According to a draft of the proposed zoning changes to the agricultural district, any operator could operate a nonmetallic mine if he or she has obtained a city-issued nonmetallic mining permit.

In addition, the proposed change to the city’s zoning ordinance would allow a zoning classification to be set at the time that a property is annexed to the city, Griesheimer said.

The city’s existing ordinance automatically zones annexed property as Residential 1, which is the most restrictive of the city’s zoning ordinances, he said.

The proposed change would allow annexed property to be zoned as any one of the eight zoning classifications at the time that the city council approves the annexation, Griesheimer said.

In other words, instead of a separate public hearing on changing the zoning to any classification, including a mining district for a sand mine, with separate published public notices and separate public comments, the city council could annex property and set the zoning all at once.

Glenwood City currently has seven zoning classifications: Residential 1, Residential 2, Commercial, Industrial, Open Development Conservancy, Agricultural, and Mobile Home Park.

Mayor John Larson noted that adopting a mining zone classification does not delineate the area that will be in the mining district.

Approving the mining zone classification puts a zone in place if the city council decides to annex land for a nonmetallic mine, he said.

All of the permitted uses in the agricultural district would be permitted in the mining district, Mayor Larson noted.

Losing control

State legislation currently under consideration would give control to the state for permitting nonmetallic mines and for environmental regulations and would remove local control, Griesheimer said.

If the state legislature approves the proposed legislation, it would take the permitting process for nonmetallic mines away from the city and the county, he said.

Plan commission members agreed that they would not be in favor of losing local control over a sand mine.

“Do we want Madison to tell us what we can or cannot do?” asked Ben DeGross.

“No,” said the other plan commission members.

“Madison does not think the state exists above I-90,” Larson said.

The state Legislature’s Committee on Workforce Development, Forestry, Mining, and Revenue held a joint hearing on the proposed legislation March 3 with the Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economy and Mining.

Reclamation

The proposed zoning changes also would remove reclamation from the city’s zoning ordinance and would instead adopt St. Croix County’s mine reclamation regulations, Griesheimer said.

Under NR135, the Department of Natural Resources administrative code that covers nonmetallic mine reclamation, the city can have its own mine reclamation ordinance or can adopt the county-wide reclamation ordinance, Griesheimer said.

Several members of the plan commission said they did not think the city would want to administer a mine reclamation ordinance that would comply with NR135 and that administering the reclamation plan should be the county’s responsibility.

NR135 covers almost 20 pages of regulations related to mine reclamation.

Recommendation

The Glenwood City Plan Commission recommended that the city council approve all four changes to the zoning code: creating a nonmetallic mining district; setting a zoning district during annexation; removing reclamation and mining from the agricultural district; and adding nonmetallic mining as a conditional use in the agricultural district.

Plan commission member Crystal Booth, who is also a city council member, said she was not in favor of allowing a mine in the city limits close to the school and to the city’s population.

Booth voted “no” on recommending both the mining zone and on adding nonmetallic mining as a conditional use in the agricultural district.