A decision on a six-month moratorium on frac sand mining in Crawford County was delayed for two months because of agenda wording at the Crawford County Board meeting held on Tuesday, Feb. 21 in the Gays Mills Community Commerce Center.
Described by county board supervisor Phil Mueller as “procedural neutering” of the moratorium, the agenda entry for the topic was submitted as “discussion on expansion and creation of new silica and nonmetallic mining operation,” effectively stopping the board from being able to vote on the proposed moratorium. Procedural rules require an item be listed as an action item in order to be voted upon.
A six-month moratorium and formation of a Special Study Committee was proposed by the Crawford County Land Conservation Committee in order to allow the county time to adequately study the possible impacts of silica sand and other non-metallic mining operations on residents.
The county board finance committee working with the county clerk creates the agenda. It was the finance committee that supplied the wording that made the moratorium a topic of discussion rather than a vote on enacting it.
Lacking the moratorium, any silica sand or nonmetallic mining permit application made before the next regular county board meeting in April would be exempt should the proposed moratorium pass at that time.
Crawford County Board Chairman Pete Flesch noted that he was in communication with other counties working on the topic at hand.
“It’s a very active topic,” Flesch noted. “One of the concerns I have is that we are talking about operations that dwarf what we already know. There are issues of infrastructure, of property values, of health.”
Flesch pointed out that wind turbine projects have been largely blocked by the current state administration because of the negative effect they had on neighboring property values.
“If wind turbines effect property values,” Flesch said, “I think a large open pit mine would. We have to look at this issue broadly. We have to set aside our individual concerns and be aware of all the issues mining can impact.”
Speaking of the breadth of concerns from jobs to roads, tourism and environmental impacts, Flesch stressed the need to look more closely at the issue in the face of potential development.
County board supervisor Duane Rogers asked that the study group be implemented immediately. Flesch agreed to move forward on it.
Approximately a dozen citizens attended in favor of a moratorium being passed. Utica Township resident and zoning committee member Edie Ehlert spoke to the board, reminding them that the moratorium enabled the townships an opportunity to respond by updating or creating zoning to address their needs.
“This is not about opposition,” Ehlert stated. “We are asking for time. And we are asking the board to listen to the Land Conservation Committee’s recommendations.”
In other business, the Crawford County Board:
• passed changes to the portions of the employee policy regarding overtime, compensation time and vacation time for county social workers
• approved a cooperation agreement with the Town of Freeman for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) management
• approved the contract with Community Development Alternatives to administer the CDBG Housing grants
• repealed and recreated section 11.01 of the animal waste management regulations, changing permitting requirements to volume based measurements of 7,000 cubic feet and up rather than the 30-day standard implemented one year ago
• heard presentations from Julie Henley on flood recovery efforts and Brad Niemcek on the Kickapoo Culinary Center
• appointed Jerry Boehm as a new member to the Board of Adjustment and named two alternates
• congratulated Gays Mills on the completion of the Gays Mills Community Commerce Center and recognized flood recovery efforts