Town of Rock Planning Commission Meeting, 9-24-18
A Town of Rock Planning Commission meeting held Monday revealed no additional information about the proposed Coulee Frac Sand mine. The 130-acre sand mine’s proposed location is the corner of County Road V and MacArthur Drive.
Attorneys for Coulee and the Town of Rock have entered into preliminary discussions as they review the requests of the Frac Sand Mining Impact Assessment Committee (FSMIAC). The October 3rd Board meeting to make a decision on the conditional use permit was cancelled to allow extra time for discussion.
Citizens of the Town of Rock were able to voice their opinion again during the two-hour meeting. A female resident brought up a potential conflict of interest between members of the zoning commission based on the fact that a board member was overheard giving their contact information to Coulee. Members of the Planning Commission responded that they personally have given their numbers to Coulee in case of any concerns and to hear both sides.
Another female resident thanked the Ad Hoc Committee for their work on the recommendation (which is to deny the permit) and requested that the decision-makers continue to listen to what citizens are saying and mull over the facts with a clear mind.
The positives – or lack thereof – of the frac sand mine were discussed. The reclamation plan will turn the mine into a lake about half the size of Lake Dexter along with a park in about 12 years. A campground is a possibility that would be able to generate money for the Town of Rock for upkeep.
Darcy Krenn, Planning Commission Member and Town Board Member, asked residents to keep an open mind to decide what might be right for the town. While he is not personally for a campground, he said that on a weekend revenue could be $12,000, funds that could help with road expenses not adequately covered by the tax base, and particularly with equipping the fire department. He would like to see every road blacktopped. Several residents however, stated they liked a gravel road to slow down traffic speed and that blacktop roads were more expensive to maintain than gravel.
A resident against the mine read aloud the FSMIAC recommendation: “No permit for a conditional use shall be granted unless the planning commission shall find the following conditions are present – that the establishment, maintenance, or operation of a conditional use will not be detrimental or endanger the public health, safety, morals, comfort, and general welfare of this community.”
Committee members responded they have not had the book long enough to break it down yet.
Another member of the audience doubted the Commission understood the sacrifice that those who would be directly affected by the mine would make and how personal the issue was.
Harry Wallis, Zoning Administrator, said that there have been multiple accusations of not caring by residents, but pointed out that the meetings were specifically to hear what the town had to say. Board members don’t have the option of being nonobjective, and have to hear both sides of the issue.
Other concerns raised were air quality related to silica dust and reliability of studies, tracking sand on the roads, truck traffic, reduced housing value, and infringement of the mine on wildlife habitat. A representative from Coulee was present to provide some insight on the number of trucks to expect and air quality measures. About 3-4 trucks per hour are expected to travel from the mine and unload in Marshfield.