Howard Town Board seeks legal counsel for Sikora property value

By LeAnn R. Ralph

TOWN OF HOWARD —  When the Town of Howard negotiated the sand mining agreement with EOG Resources, somehow, Dale and Sandy Sikora’s property was not included in the property value guarantee.

At the September 2 meeting, the Howard Town Board approved a motion directing the township’s attorney to contact the attorney for EOG Resources about adding the Sikora property to the list.

In a letter dated July 28, Dale and Sandy Sikora asked the Howard Town Board to amend the mining agreement to include their property because it is closer to the sand mine than other properties included on the list.

Under the Town of Howard’s agreement with EOG for the sand mine on county Highway B, if the owner of a property listed in the agreement is unable to sell the property for fair market value, EOG Resources will make up the difference between the actual sale price and fair market value.

If the property is on the market for six months but does not sell, EOG will purchase the property for fair market value.

When the Town of Howard first started negotiating with EOG Resources, town board members wanted property that was adjacent to the mine included on the list and also property that was subject to the greatest nuisances from the mine, such as noise, dust or truck traffic, said Vernon Schindler, chair of the Town of Howard.

“EOG agreed to neither,” Schindler said.

Instead, company representatives provided a list of properties that the company was willing to cover, he said.

The property list that was presented to the town board is what EOG would agree to cover, said Susan Haake, town clerk.

The town board suggested criteria for which properties should be included, “but they gave us a list, and we do not know how they made the list,” she said.

When the town board reviewed the list, board members did not notice that the Dale and Sandy Sikora property was not on the list, said Tom Zwiefelhofer, town board supervisor.

As soon as the town board started talking about a property value guarantee for Howard residents, negotiations stopped with EOG Resources, said Dennis Dvoracek, town board supervisor.

EOG “did not want to do a property value guarantee for anyone. They wanted nothing to do with the criteria. They gave us a list,” he said.

Town board members looked at the list and overlooked Dale and Sandy Sikora, Dvoracek said.

“(EOG) didn’t want to do this at all,” he said.

The Howard Town Board unanimously approved a motion to ask the town’s attorney to contact the attorney for EOG Resources about adding Dale and Sandy Sikora’s property to the property value guarantee.

Hello?

Another agenda item for the Howard Town Board at the September 2 meeting focused on communication — or lack thereof — with EOG Resources.

Zwiefelhofer noted that the Howard Town Board has not received an answer from EOG Resources on the contaminated well at the Edward Dachel property or about hiring an independent engineer to assess the effect of EOG’s blasting at the Edward Dachel property.

Zwiefelhofer said he has left messages for the mine supervisor, Tom Maul, a number of times but that his calls have not been returned.

“Someone has to answer the phone sometime,” Zwiefelhofer said.

“But they’re not answering,” Dvoracek said.

Zwiefelhofer also noted that EOG Resources has been submitting their tonnage reports late as well.

“They keep promising (the reports) will not be late, but then I have to keep sending them reminders,” Haake said.

Schindler suggested contacting EOG’s attorney, and Dvoracek said he would be willing to make the contact.

According to the mining agreement, EOG shall at all times have an agent, whose name, fax number, e-mail address and telephone numbers are made known to the town clerk, available to respond to complaints, problems and the notice required under the section pertaining to the property value guarantee.

Communications with EOG Resources is expected to be on the agenda for the Town of Howard’s next meeting on October 7 at 7:45 p.m.

At the September 2 meeting, the Howard Town Board also agreed to work on developing an ordinance for requiring companies or individuals who are prospecting for sand to properly close the boreholes.

A public hearing on the proposed ordinance will be held at the October meeting.