Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Angelo Delays Action on Mining Ordinance

The Angelo Town Board deferred action on a proposed non-metallic mining and blasting ordinance last night because Town Chair Tom Leverich was absent. Warren Kastberg, the acting chair, and Steve Treu, the third board member, said that because of the importance of the decision, the full board should participate.
The board deferred action until its Dec. 15th meeting, which comes just weeks before the town's sand mine moratorium expires.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Town of Angelo Reviews Draft of Sand Mine Ordinance

At the request of Jim Leverich, a member  of the Town of Angelo Planning Commission,  the Town Board agreed Tuesday night to review the Planning Commission's draft proposal for a sand mine ordinance prior to releasing it to the public.
Town Chair Tom Leverich said, "If it seems O.K. we could set a date for a special meeting and be done with it.  I don't want to get the public stirred up."
Board member Steve Treu, questioning license fee assessments and their enforcement, suggested fees be passed on to sand mines.  "We don't want to burden the rest of the town," he said.
Board member Warren Kastberg said, "Much depends on what happens in Little Falls," referring to a sand mine proposed by Mathy Construction in the Town of Little Falls where, unlike Angelo Township, there is no rail line.
The Angelo Sand Mine moratorium expires on December 31, 2012.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Angelo Extends Sand Mine Moratorium

by Barbara Rice

The Angelo Town Board last night extended its sand mine moratorium four months, setting December 31, 2012, as the new deadline and requiring the Planning Committee to present its recommendations on November 1, 2012.   Town Board chairman Tom Leverich said both the Board and the public will receive copies of the report before it is presented at a yet-to-be scheduled public hearing.

Planning Committee member Jim Leverich said the mining portion of the report has been reviewed with Atty. Mike McAlpine.  The committee is now studying blasting use as outlined by Chippewa County's Town of Howard, the impact of loading operations involving rail and truck lines and establishing a fee schedule.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Little Falls Denies CUP to Mathy Sand Mine

by Barbara Rice

Seventy-five town of Little Falls residents crowded into the  town hall Wednesday night to hear the town board reject the request of Mathy Construction Company (Milestone Materials), La Crosse, for a conditional use permit to operate a hundred-acre sand mine in Little Falls.  Town Chair Don Herr and Supervisor Steve Mathews voted for denial.  Supervisor Bryan Olsen dissented.

A number of issues were listed as basis for recommending denial of a CUP to the Monroe County Sanitation, Planning & Zoning Committee.   Objections include potential environmental damage to groundwater and surface waters; undefined hours of mining operations and trucking; number of trucks in use; noise, dust and lighting control; use of Township roads, access to site and aesthetic concerns.   

The County Zoning Committee, the body which issues conditional use permits. will hold a public hearing at  6 p.m. on Monday, August 20, 2012, at the Rolling Hills Auditorium to consider the Mathy request.   At that meeting the Town Board will recommend that the County Committee deny a CUP for Mathy.

 La Crosse Atty. Thomas J. Kieffer, retained by the Board, said that should the Committee fail to accept its recommendation the Town will have an opportunity to challenge the County Zoning Committee decision.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sand Mine Seeks to Buy More Land Next to Sparta

A sand mine is trying to buy land in the town of Angelo--which has a moratorium on sand mines. Why would a sand mine buy in town ship that doesn't allow sand mines? For one thing, the moratorium is temporary--six months. And, should Angelo make it permanent, the sand mine could always ask the city of Sparta to annex it the land and then approve it as a sand mine site. That's what happened with the US Silica site. See the red question marks in a circle on the map below for the possible location of a second sand mine in Sparta. The big red blocks are existing sand mines--the US Silica site and the Monroe County sand mine site. SpartaSandMinesMap copy

Little Falls Town Board Tables Action on Sand Mine for Sixty Days, Eyes Moratorium

The Town Board of Little Falls last week decided to table action on an application from Onalaska-based Mathy Construction to build a 100-acre sand mine. Town chair Don Herr and the two other voting members of the town board, Bryan Olsen and Steve Matthews said there some points of disagreement in the application so they wanted to table the matter for further consideration. They first asked Mathy if the company would mind the town tabled the matter and Mathy agreed. Mathy is asking the county to postpone a county zoning hearing about the sand mine.
Mathy is applying for a conditional use permit that would allow it to use the land, currently zoned for general agriculture and general forestry, for a mine.
Separately, the town board circulated a proposed moratorium on sand mining. Herr said that the Mathy request has to be dealt with before the town can enact the moratorium since its request for its proposed sand mine came before the town considered a moratorium. The town will consider the moratorium at next month's meeting.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Little Falls Planning Commission Rejects Sand Mine, Vote Goes to Town Board

In a vote that took place before a crowd of 60 or 70 people, the planning commission for the town of Little Falls voted 5 to 1 last week to recommend against allowing Onalaska-based Mathy Construction to build a sand mine on a 100-acre site at what was the Howard Pierce tree farm. The planning commission's vote was a recommendation only; it goes before the Town of Little Falls board on Wednesday night. The three voting members of the board will then make a decision on the sand mine. There was much concern about truck traffic. Mathy would truck sand on Hwy. 27, delivering either to a rail line in the city of Sparta or driving it to La Crosse to load it on a barge on the Mississippi. The route would mean trucks carrying tons of sand would be driving past the Sparta Senior High School and the Lawrence Lawson elementary school.

Image 15Tara Wetzel,  an environmental manager  for Mathy Construction, spoke about the mine; Mathy also showed did a slide presentation.

Planning committee members who voted against the sand mine were Don Herr, the town chair; Pat Nugent, Marge Peacock, Sue Van Geertruy and Douglas Moskonas. Wayne Turckalski voted for the mine. Town board members who will consider the mine Wednesday night are Herr, Bryan Olsen and Steve Matthews. That meeting will be in the Little Falls town hall, located on the edge of Cataract on County Truck I at 8 p.m. Wednesday.

The Monroe County zoning committee will take up the matter at a meeting at 6 p.m. Monday night at the auditorium in the county offices at Rolling Hills. The zoning committee will vote on the matter no matter what the town board's decision is. If the county zoning committee votes against the sand mine, the matter stops there. If the county zoning committee approves it, the town board has 21 days to veto decision and the matter stops there, according to Alison Elliot, director of the Monroe County zoning office.Image 14

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Spring Time is Sand Mine Season in Monroe County

In the city of Sparta, work has begun on the U.S. Silica site, which is right next to the most densely populated neighborhood in the city. To see a video, click on read more below. Or, see for yourself. For the best view of what's happening there, ride along the Sparta-Elroy Bicycle Trail, a major tourism attraction. Meanwhile, Unimin continues its work on the Tunnel City sand mine. In Oakdale, there are now three sand mines, either operating, in the works or going through an application process.

This video shows the progress sand mines are making in Sparta and Tunnel City. It shows the trains that make these sites so attractive to sand mines. Note the hills around the Tunnel City sand mine. Unimin will level them to get at sand. It says it will rebuild them, but also says they will not look like the ones that are being destroyed.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Grassroots Movement Pushes for Sand Mine Moratorium in City of Sparta

Two Monroe County townships have said "whoa!" to sand mine development and have passed moratoriums on sand mines. The problem for both of these townships, the town of Angelo and the town of the Sparta, is that they are adjacent to the city of Sparta, which has swiftly annexed land adjacent to the city and in one instance, approved the development of one major sand mine. Sand mine companies continue to put out feelers to buy other property adjacent to the city.

Now there's a movement in the city of Sparta to declare a moratorium on sand mining, as the towns of Sparta and Angelo have done and as the city of Winona, Minn., has also done. The town of Angel's moratorium lays out the rationale for a moratorium. It cites concerns about the impact of sand mining on local infrastructure, on property values (property owners trying to sell homes near the Tunnel City sand mine have had no prospective buyers look at their homes) and on health. The idea: to find out what all a sand mine entails and to decided whether or not to allow sand mining and what regulations to enact if the town decides to allow sand mining. To read the moratorium, a possible model for the city of Sparta, should it choose to pass such a moratorium, click here.

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Friday, February 24, 2012

Town of Angelo Passes Six-Month Sand Mine Moratorium

Image 8The Angelo town board passed a six-month moratorium on sand mines this morning. The township will create a committee of townspeople to carefully study the process of sand mining and what legal controls are available to the township. "It gives us six months to consider what actions might be taken in order to protect the people, so to speak, in the town," said Tom Leverich, town chair. About 25 people attended the meeting in the town hall. The board called for a show of hands for all those who supported a moratorium and all but two people raised their hands. It goes into effect upon publication and has been submitted to the Sparta Herald.

Skip Frazee photo

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Town of Sparta Poised to Pass Sandmining Moratorium

The town of Sparta voted last night to hold a hearing March 6 on whether or not to pass a sand mining moratorium in the township. The approximately 50 people attending the meeting of the board of supervisors overwhelmingly voiced support for a moratorium. Late last year, the city of Sparta annexed a farm in the town of Sparta to speed approval of a sand mine that U.S. Silica will build and operate.

Howard Garves, town chair, said that at the March 6 meeting, the board will discuss the length of a moratorium. It could be four months, six months or a year. The town wants a moratorium to give it time to create a town of Sparta ordinance to govern sand mining in the town.

“It is not a zoning ordinance,” he said.

At last night’s meeting the board invited the public to give its views on a moratorium.

“They overwhelmingly said that they want a moratorium,” Garves said. “Our intention is the have the hearing and if it is the wish o the people at that time, based again on the hearing, then we will adopt it"

Those at the meeting also discussed reports of other sales of property in the town of Sparta to sand mines. These properties are near the U.S. Silica site, which used to be in the town of Sparta. The city of Sparta annexed the land at the request of the property owners to simplify the approval process for the sand mine. Jeff Jahn, mine planning and development manager for U.S. Silica, said that U.S. Silica is not the sand mine company that is trying to buy the properties that are either being sold or have options to sell on them.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Town of Angelo to Discuss Sand Mine Moratorium in Special Meeting Friday Morning

The town board of Angelo is holding a special meeting at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 24, to discuss a sand mine moratorium and regulating sand mines.

The board discussed sand mines at its regular monthly meeting Feb. 14. At that meeting, one resident of the township expressed concerns about the sand mine and, according to the minutes of the meeting, town board supervisor Steve Treu said he would support a moratorium on sand mining in the township to allow the board to develop some procedures or licensing to protect the township and its residents. The board then had the town attorney draft a resolution for the special meeting, which will be held Friday.

All three board supervisors attended a day-long meeting about sand mining held by the Wisconsin Towns Association late last year. The other supervisors are Tom Leverich, chair, and Warren Kastberg. Mary Carlisle is the town clerk and treasurer.

An official notice of the meeting is running in the Monroe County Democrat on Thursday, Feb. 23. On the agenda: "Discussion and possible action on the town of Angelo ordinance to impose a moratorium on the expansion of existing and creation of new non-metallic operations within the town of Angelo pending the study of possible legislative action."
Image 3

Monday, February 20, 2012

Proposed Sand Mine Site Next to Sparta Municipal Golf Course

Click on the link below to read more about land a sand mine is trying to buy in the town of Angelo.

The area outlined in red is land a sand mine is seeking to buy. It is immediately adjacent to the municipal golf course (if you look closely, you can see the greens). It straddles the LaCrosse River and drains into Perch Lake. It's immediately across from Memorial Park, the football field, softball fields and the municipal swimming pool. This image is from the Monroe County website, www.co.monroe.wi.us .

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Sparta City Council Okays Sand Mine Permit

Image 5The Sparta City Council voted six to two last night to deny all appeals and okayed a conditional use permit for the mine.  It voted to approve a conditional use permit for the mine, despite several appeals to delay approval in order to learn more about the sand mine and its impact on health and other concerns. Another pointed to precedents set by other municipalities in the area with sand mines. These municipalities have charged sand mines fees or gotten property value guarantees from sand mines.

Five people had filed appeals against the city planning commission's approval of the mine. One appeal pointed to the agreement the town of Greenfield negotiated with the sand mine going in near Tunnel City. The town will collect 15 cents per ton annually, amounting to an estimated $250,000 each year, as a precedent Sparta could follow. Others expressed concern about depreciating property values and gave the board copies of an agreement including such provisions that the town of Howard in nearby Chippewa County made with a sand mine there.

The two council members who voted in favor of the appeal were Connie Anderson and Ed Lukasek. Those voting to deny the appeal were Ron Button, Jim Church, Carlos Holcomb, Norman Stanek, Dan Hellman and Kevin Riley.  Click here to read the Monroe County Democrat's coverage of that meeting. One note: there is an error in both the head line and story. Tony Angelini was not ejected from the meeting.