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GC discusses mine reclamation ordinance

By LeAnn R. Ralph

GLENWOOD CITY — Instead of the Vista Sand mine coming under St. Croix County’s reclamation ordinance, Glenwood City could have its own ordinance for nonmetallic mine reclamation.

Although he did not specify his concerns, Mayor John Larson said at Monday night’s Glenwood City Council meeting that he was concerned about St. Croix County overseeing the reclamation.

St. Croix County allows 20 acres to be open in a nonmetallic mine.

Wisconsin administrative code NR135 defines what must be in the reclamation ordinance, said Scott McCurdy of Cedar Corporation.

An existing reclamation ordinance could be modified for Glenwood City, he said.

One part of the reclamation ordinance should establish a fee structure, McCurdy said.

The city would have to pay an annual fee for open acres that have not been reclaimed, and the ordinance could specify an administrative fee and financial assurance for the unreclaimed open acreage, he said, noting that Glenwood City would also want a mining company to establish an escrow account or a bond for reclamation.

If the company had to pay $2,000 an acre annually for 50 open acres, that would amount to $100,000 each year and would provide a financial incentive for the company to move forward with reclamation, McCurdy said.

Glenwood City would also want to establish a cost for reclaiming one acre of land, perhaps $1,500 to $3,500 per acre, to be set aside as escrow or with a bond, he said.

The city also would have to hire staff or retain an engineer to oversee the reclamation, McCurdy noted.

City council member Crystal Booth asked about the annual cost for Cedar Corporation to oversee the reclamation, but McCurdy said he did not have a cost estimate available.

Anders Helquist, an attorney representing Vista Sand with the law firm of Weld, Riley, Prenn & Ricci, said that the cost of overseeing the reclamation was already covered in the city’s agreement with Vista Sand.

Developing the reclamation ordinance would take two or three months, McCurdy said, adding that he would recommend the city council appoint a committee to draft an ordinance and then bring it to the council for approval.

After the city council approves the reclamation ordinance, the state Department of Natural Resources would have 45 days to review it for compliance with NR135, he said.

The agenda listed the reclamation ordinance as a discussion item, so the Glenwood City Council did not take any action on appointing a committee or otherwise moving forward with a nonmetallic mine reclamation ordinance.

Property value

Mayor Larson also talked about the property value assurance in the agreement with Vista Sand and wondered about the effective date of the agreement.

The city has signed the agreement but representatives for Vista Sand have not.

“I would hate to see anyone miss out on the property value assurance for listing the house too early, on May 1 instead of June 1,” Mayor Larson said.

If property owners eligible for the property value assurance have listed their houses for sale before the agreement has legally gone into effect, those properties would not be covered by the agreement.

Dunst suggested that the city council should not further discuss the agreement with Vista Sand since it was not listed as an agenda item.

Other business

In other business, the Glenwood City Council:

• Received a report from Andrew Aslesen of the Wisconsin Rural Water Association about a wellhead protection plan for Glenwood City. The groundwater recharge areas in the city are primarily on the northwest side, and the city could draft an ordinance to protect the recharge areas from businesses that use chemicals and could contaminate the city’s water supply. “The less pollutants you can put in the area around the well, the better,” Aslesen said.

• Approved a 30-day extension for a burn permit issued to the St. Croix County Fair.

• Approved a burn permit application from Diane Jeske.

• Approved renewing the 2014-2015 liquor and bartender operator licenses.

• Approved purchasing an Automated External Defibrillator for the Glenwood City Community Center at a cost of $1,324. St. Croix County will pay for half of the cost of the AED.

• Approved the Compliance Maintenance Annual Report for the wastewater treatment facility. The city council did not discuss any details of the report, such as the overall grade for the facility or whether the facility had any deficiencies.

• Approved increasing sewer utility rates by 16 percent.

• Learned that Sharon Rosenow, city clerk-treasurer, had received five applications for lifeguards. Rosenow said she had lined up an instructor for swimming lessons, and even if none of the five applicants passed the certification class, she could hire an aide to help with the lessons. Several hundred children signed up for swimming lessons last year, and city council members agreed that offering swimming lessons was an important community service.

• Discussed the possibility of removing the fence from around the city swimming pool, putting up signs warning to “swim at your own risk,” and not hiring any lifeguards.