Trempealeau County rejects large sand mine proposal

2013-10-09T19:27:00Z 2013-10-10T15:58:00Z Trempealeau County rejects large sand mine proposalBy SAMANTHA LUHMANN La Crosse Tribune

WHITEHALL — Trempealeau County officials rejected a 725-acre mine Wednesday after considering the application for nearly seven hours.

The Environment and Land Use Committee turned down a conditional use and reclamation permit for a non-metallic mining-quarry and rail load out for a proposed mine near the town of Arcadia during the Department of Land Management's regular meeting.

The vote was denied 5-3, with committee members Jay Low, Michael Nelson and Tom Bice in favor of the mine.

Committee members expressed concerns about the urgency of the mine and many felt the application was rushed.

AllEnergy Silica submitted its application before the moratorium for new and expanding frac sand mines became effective Aug. 30, but failed to provide details about its reclamation plan.

The company also was vague about its method to truck sand and transport the substance via culvert.

“The plan seemed to be rushed,” committee member Kathy Zeglin said. “It was revised after the third party review. It leads one to wonder how many times it may be revised again.”

Officials also were uneasy about the mine's close proximity to Trempealeau River and Trout Run Creek. Both natural bodies of water would have been located on either side of Hwy. J near the proposed processing facilities.

“The siting does not seem to be in the best interest of our citizens,” committee member Jeff Bawek said. “Nor our best use of our resources in Trempealeau County.”

The AllEnergy Silica mine would have been located over a span of 725 acres on the properties of Gary Haines, Cortland Farms and Francis Pronschinske. Active mining, including plant facilities, would have occurred on 550 acres.

The total investment of the mine was $45 million and AllEnergy representatives promised a long-term commitment.

“We've agreed to no trucking at all, we're putting a dry plant in, we're investing in capital infrastructure,” representative Mark Riley said. “We're going to be good stewards of the land.”

But promises to return the land to a usable state weren't taken seriously by local residents.

“It's almost funny to hear them say they want to be good neighbors,” Arcadia resident John Schultz said. “I hope they apologize for it.”

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