SUPERVISORS LOOK AT REZONING ISSUE

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By Pat McTaggart

Freelance Writer

 

More than 50 people attended an August 15 public hearing to discuss a request from the Pattison Sand Company to rezone some land around its mining operation from A1 (agricultural) to M2 (heavy industrial), which would allow underground mining. Planning and Zoning Commissioner Janet Ott told the group that the P&Z has recommended that the land be rezoned.  She also said that the commission had included several restrictions and suggestions for the rezoning.

Several people spoke to the supervisors—some are in favor of the move, others are against it. Pattison representatives stated that the rezoning is important to the future of the company. They also noted the positive economic impact of the company and its employees on the county. Talking about the restrictions and recommendations suggested by the P&Z Commission, noted mining expert and geologist Mark Krumenacher said that they are all doable but that several of the restrictions and suggestions were already covered by other regulations.

“We’ve been on record numerous times to not actually being opposed to restrictions or conditions,” said Health and Safety Director for Pattison Sand’s Tim Adkins. “As a matter of fact, if those conditions. . . are, in fact, necessary, reasonable, based on facts, scientific data and not emotion, we’ll end up with a win-win situation.”

Those opposed to the rezoning were concerned about blasting times for the underground operation, blowing sand from the mine operation, environmental impact and the possibility of impacts on the area if future mine owners want to expand the underground operation. Several people urged the supervisors to take a closer look at the restrictions and to make sure they were all implemented if the board approves the rezoning. Others urged the supervisors to take their time with their decision.

 Kay Vifian, Garnavillo, spoke in favor of the study committee’s recommendations.  “We are simply saying that we believe that county needs to take the time necessary to address special circumstances that the mining of silica sand has created by updating the comprehensive plan and remanding the current zoning ordinances to provide oversight of this industry, which has exploded in the last 10 years,” she said.

            Near the conclusion of the hearing, a motion was made to approve a conditional agreement between Pattison Sand and the adjacent land owners.  That move opened up the discussion of each of the 17 restrictions from P&Z that could be included in the agreement as amendments.  Several of the restrictions were not included because they were redundant, while others were included or modified and then included. 

Those restrictions included were:

Pattison must file an emergency plan with the county Emergency Management Agency.

Pattison must implement monitoring and protection agreements for wells.

Mining activities must be underground and allow for other aspects of mining such as entrances and exits as needed and openings for ventilation.

Pattison will be responsible for any well damage that could be attributed to mining activity.

At the end of the hearing, the supervisors tabled the motion to approve the agreement until another public hearing, which will be held at 1 p.m. August 22 at the County Office Building.

 
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