Sand Mines in Oakdale, Valley Junction and Tunnel City--Is Sparta Next?
City Council to Consider Annexing Site to Speed Development
Friday, Oct. 14 -- Twenty-five Town of Sparta residents, four City of Sparta residents and one realtor attended an informational meeting conducted by Jeff Jahn, U. S. Silica, Mine Planning & Development Manager, at the Wagman-Smith farm house on land proposed for a sand mine operation.
Jahn said land owners Sharon J. Wagman and neighbor Duane G. Niedfeldt contacted U. S. Silica after having received inquiries from other sand miners. U. S. Silica’s option to purchase the land expires at the end of December.
Jahn said a part of the planning process is to determine not only the quality and quantity of sand and its proximity to rail but to seek input from the community--to listen to concerns, explain what U. S. Silica will do and get to know the community so that there will be the least negative impact.
Township residents said many were unaware of the annexation move, initiated October 12, until they read the paper the next day. They were critical of the speed with which it will be presented to the Sparta Planning Commission on October 17 and to the City Council for approval on October 18.
Jahn said annexation was requested “as a matter of convenience” for the sellers
Jahn said annexation was requested “as a matter of convenience” for the sellers who want to complete the sale by the end of December. Getting a conditional use permit and seeking approval of a reclamation agreement would require more time because of having to work with three government agencies--Monroe County, the Township and the City’s extraterritorial agreement.
Jahn said, “In hindsight, maybe that was unfortunate. If all of you think it should not happen we will not go forward.”
Jahn said, “ We would like to have had six months. We have three months. The sellers determined the terms of sale. We are trying to accommodate the sellers. If not,” he suggested “they will find another buyer.”
Jahn said the processing plant would be located adjacent to Sparta’s Industrial Park, near Century Foods, Matthew’s, Multistack and other industries, but will “be protected by natural buffers.” It will include a stock pile of sand, unprotected and open to wind.
Jahn said that because the planning process is incomplete there were a number of questions he could not answer.
Control of water washing from the hole during periods of deep rain--will water overflow and spread to the Little LaCrosse and the LaCrosse rivers?
What will happen to the wetlands? Its wildlife--birds, deer?
The map you obtained this morning does not adequately identify wetlands and flood plain.
Will Wet Mining increase mosquito population?
How will dredging to the water table affect individual wells?
Are copies of Silica’s Environmental Impact statement available?
Will a High Capacity Well be required to run 5,000 gallons of water a minute? Can you meet the requirements?
Will mine operations be seven days a week, around the clock?
Describe weekly/daily operational hours, “seasonal” summer-winter operations.
How will proposed Transmission Lines affect your operation?
Describe extent of truck traffic generated by truckloads of sand to be trucked in for use in the processing procedure.
Describe the extent of U. S. Silica’s Good Neighbor Policy--making up the difference when neighbors’ property loses value.
How does U. S. Silica plan to compensate Township’s for its loss of tax revenue if land is annexed by Sparta?
Jahn said he learned of the State Bike Trail earlier today and plans to meet with the DNR on Monday, October 17. At this meeting he was told about the abandoned dump site which may be a source of contamination.
Over the weekend, he will look at sites within a ten mile radius for a location with “poor” sand--”20-40 mesh sand.” This site has 10 to 20% “20-40. ” He would like to find a site with 50% “20-40 mesh,” suggesting that the present site has a limited amount of quality sand.