Monday, October 31, 2011

Dan Frolo's Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor and fellow Sparta area citizens…with specific questions addressed to US Silica’s Mr. Brian Slobodow and the City of Sparta Management team:
Great news!  The city of Sparta grew by 520 acres this week!  This happened when the two property owners of that land asked that it become part of the city. The Sparta City council obliged them after hearing a few comments from some city and township residents.
The mayor and some council members said (disclaimer: my quotes are all paraphrased), “Anytime the city has the opportunity to grow we’re going to jump on it.”

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

U.S. Silica Delays Request for Conditional User Permit Until October

U.S. Silica to Delay Request for Conditional Use Permit Until December

Tuesday, Oct. 25 -- U.S. Silica, which has an option to purchase 520 acres of land in a newly annexed part of the city of Sparta, will present its request for a conditional use permit at the December city planning commission and city council meetings, which are currently scheduled to be Dec. 19 and 20. Initially the company was going present its plans at the November meetings.

Jeff Jahn, mine planning and development manager and U.S. Silica's on-the-ground man on the project (although U.S. Silica's CEO, Brian Slobodow, also has been in Sparta to reach out the community) said that the company extended what had been a 90-day option to buy with the property's sellers to a 120-day option to buy. The company worked out an extension with the owners. The extension means that U.S. Silica has time to present the city with a plan that is as complete as possible. Meeting the deadline of Nov. 14 an 15 for the meetings would have caused U.S. Silica "significant problems," Jahn said.

Presenting the plan and applying for the conditional use permit--which U.S. Silica hopes to have approved at the December meeting-- also gives U.S. Silica that chance to continue to seek input from the community itself. Jahn stressed the importance of getting feedback and local input.

"We didn't want people to think we were trying to rush something through," he said.

Click here to see a PDF of U.S. Silica's draft of what it is tentatively considering doing on the Sparta site.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sand Mine Dust

Monday, Oct. 24 --Want to see what a sand mine looks like and how sand can blow? Click on the "read more" link below to see the video. When it comes to sand mining, it's the wild West all over again, as scores of companies with varying amounts of experience and standards descend upon Wisconsin in a new gold rush.

Jeff Jahn, a representative of U.S. Silica, which is examining the possibility of putting a sand mine in what is now part of the city of Sparta, said such a scenario would be totally unacceptable to U.S. Silica. Jahn spent 45 minutes talking to, more to come about that conversation.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

City Council Annexes Potential Sand Mine Site

ArticleSandMineSparta102011Wednesday, Oct. 19 -- Last night members of the Sparta City Council voted 6 to 1 to annex a site slated to be a sand mine. The next step: getting a conditional use permit for the site. The reason behind the proposed annexation: if the site is in the city of Sparta, developers need to work with just one government entity, the city of Sparta. Otherwise it means dealing with the city, the town of Sparta and Monroe County.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sparta City Council to Vote on Annexing Site for Proposed Sand Mine

Tuesday, Oct. 18 -- The possibility of increased tax revenue powered unanimous approval of annexing the Sharon Wagman/Duane Niedfeldt property in the Town of Sparta at last night’s meeting of the City Planning Commission, despite objections voiced by a number of Township residents present.
Mayor John Sund emphasized that annexation was the issue and was unrelated to  the intent of U. S. Silica to operate a sand mine on the property. 

The matter will come before the Common Council tonight.  A super majority, or a 2/3 vote by six of the eight Council members, is required for approval.  
Council members Kevin Riley, Norm Stanek, Ronald Button and Connie Anderson have already indicated they support annexation.

Sparta’s Common Council meets at 7 p.m. tonight.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Proposed Sparta Sand Mine

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.