PLAN COMMISSION MEETING
Town of Cooks Valley
April 16, 2012
Chairman Doug Zwiefelhofer called the Plan Commission meeting to order at 7:31 pm on Monday April 16, 2012 at the Cooks Valley Town Hall [15784 40th Street]. There was an introduction of the members of the plan commission-Doug Zwiefelhofer, Arlene Hintzman, Scott Johnson, Thomas Short, and Carol M. Clements and an introduction of representatives from Preferred Sands-Paul McLean, an associate, and Curt Oakes -Olson Explosives. See attached list of delegation present.
Presentation by the Preferred Sands mining company: Preferred Sands is a partner with property owners Sam LaGesse, Donald Prill, and James Springer. The mine was established during litigation of mining ordinance and is proceeding after the fact with the permitting process. Silica sand is old, round, hard and fairly clean from glacier and geological events. Preferred Sands sells the sand to an oil service provider that is a part of big oil companies. Hydro fracking has been around for yeas but through technology and the use of silica sand has now enabled oil companies to drill one hole and then go horizontal with drilling. Water forces open cracks in the shale, sand is pushed into the cracks holding the cracks open and allowing the gas and oil to pass through. At the mine site, they add water and send the sand to the wash plants. Unusable sand can be used for reclamation purposes and desirable sand is stockpiled to be shipped out. NR135 is the Wisconsin statute which in a zoned area is under county jurisdiction. With the Supreme Court ruling, there is now the permitting process in the Town of Cooks Valley which a police ordinance area. An explanation of the mine area showed features where phase 1 went along the lower part of the north side of the bluff, then proceeded west, in the future the mine site will turn and proceed along the south side of the ridege. The top soil level and lower subsoil level necessary for the reclamation plan are in the berms that are reseeded to prevent erosion and for dust control. The wash plant takes fresh water causing the finer sands to go in the up flow current; the heavier sands sink and then cleaned of clay residual by agitation and placed in a wash sand pile. The fine said is dropped in a spot to be moved into a final place for reclamation. The mine’s perimeter is within a 50 foot boundary from adjoining properties. The high points of the ridge will be reduced in some areas and but in other areas the company will have to raise the height of the ridge to match the height of the neighbors’ property to attain the same drainage prior to the mining process. Grades are to be reestablished to bring the water back to the direction of drainage prior to the mining process.
As far as groundwater concerns, the county did not know what they wanted to do as to monitoring the water. The high capacity wells were authorized through the DNR and the water used in the washing process is almost totally recycled. The amount of water lost is due to absorption into the washed sand and evaporation. There are six monitoring wells to triangulate the area and determine the water level in the shallow aquifer for residents and monitor the deep aquifer where the mine company is drawing from. Graphs demonstrated the deep aquifer returned to its pre-operating level with minutes of cessation of water pumping.
Regarding explosives-Curt Oakes said safety is the #1 concern. He is licensed in eleven states. Wisconsin places explosives licensing into classes. All the blasters are licensed in class 5 & 6. Pre-blast surveys are conducted by an independent contractor who enters a residence and documents the condition of the home in regard to cracks in walls and sheetrock, drainage issues in the basement, and the condition of the foundation. These are non-owned properties of the mining company at a given distance of the blast area. The use of anfo [which is ammonium nitrate and fuel oil is in an 11 ft. burden and 13 ft. spacing in 4 ½ inch bore hole, with approximately 180 lbs. to a hole with two holed detonating at the same time with a delay to the nearest property. The blasting perimeter reactive range is determined by the property owners. Com 7 which has changed to SPS307 determines the allowable vibration criteria 2 in curve-no damage to structures. Olson Explosives conducts the blasting of all the mine sites in the area including Fairmont, MN. SP 307 places liability on the contractor for blasting damage on pre-surveyed structures and an independent contractor has to document the damage. Blasting can cause particulates into a well depending on the quality of the well casing or the weather.
The Truck route for preferred sands is 186th Avenue to County Highway DD to State Highway 64 and eventually to the processing plant to be built in the Town of Bloomer.
Public Comment: Chairman Doug Zwiefelhofer on behalf of the plan commission thanked Preferred Sands for their donation to the Town of Cooks Valley recycling fund. He commented the mines are here and we can see the problems that are here-dust, traffic, noise. He would tally the repetition of concerns and enforce a three minute rule to insure the opportunity for everyone to comment.
The following are the people that commented and their written submission of concerns:
Gene Pagel expressed concern about Preferred Sands possible expansion into the Rogge property. How is it possible for the same road haul route to accommodate that much truck traffic?
Tamara La Belle-lives on 60th Street and works shifts. When the trucks traveled the alternate route, she had to go to town to be able to sleep. They were offered $20.000.00 less for their house. She would like a limit of hours of operations; property tax relief; and outside monitoring of dust and air quality.
Jane Sonnentag-lives on the corner of 135th Avenue and County Highway DD-
Rosemary Gehring-expressed concerns about dust, the air quality, noise [the blasting and noise from the machinery is so loud she is unable to sit outside]. Rosemary Gehring has moved to the City of Bloomer due to the negative impact of living next to a mine site. She stated her granddaughter now has to deal with the noise and other effects of living next to a mining site. She is concerned about water testing after the mining is finished and reclamation is accomplished. Who would be doing the water and well testing? Who determined the 50 feet from the property line as a mining perimeter? Will there be posts to show the actual property boundaries? The water drainage is headed toward her land and what affect will there be on the wetland and springs on her property?
Scott & Donna Johnson-
David Clements said we have been dealing with mines for 6 years and no one attended the meetings until the 11th hour.
Doug Zwiefelhofer-felt we need to negotiate down to 3-4 concerns and use science, common sense, and understand there are some things that we cannot negotiate. If concerns are crossed off, do not be alarmed that these concerns will not be addressed.
Arlene Hintzman- said that the town’s lawyer will be at the Wednesday night meeting and is considered one the best lawyers in the state and will guide us in what we can and cannot do.
Scott Johnson- there are references in the Supreme Court ruling that we can use during negotiations.
Discussion and Possible negotiations between the Town of Cooks Valley Plan Commission and the Preferred sands mining company: A moratorium would not be able to be placed on the existing companies but new mines or the expansion of existing mines may be subject to a moratorium.
Preferred Sands agreed to erect a fence for property markers for Rosemary Gehring.
If a temporary haul route is needed for Preferred Sands, the previous road haul agreement would be in effect regarding rules on the hours of hauling and the number of trucks.
Water monitoring testing results would be given quarterly to the Town of Cooks Valley and posted on the town website.
Preferred Sands is committed to monitoring streams and agreed to fund the monitoring in regards to quantity of flow. Darrel Fehr said Dan Fedderly would explain the quarterly reports to the residents at a town board meeting.
In consideration of the noise level for Rosemary Gehring, it was asked if a berm or rows of trees would reduce the noise level.
In regard to blasting, Curt Oakes felt Wisconsin has good regulations for blasting and residents should take advantage of a pre-blasting survey when offered.
Scott Johnson commented he has had a pre-blast survey and has had cracks in his house since the blasting has commenced at the Dennis Schindler mine site.
According to Curt Oakes, all blasting has been below the limits required by the State of Wisconsin. He explained the affects of the air blast due to a weather inversion factor. A berm with trees could help to divert the air blast.
Paul McLean does not believe the testing of wells is necessary, relating there are no studies that indicate mining contaminates wells.
Paul McLean felt property values are tough to determine especially since the meltdown of 2006. Scott Johnson has had people refuse to buy his house due to its location next to a mine site and there are fewer potential buyers as the result of the mine adjacent to our property, the value is decreased; supply and demand do affect the property value. Paul McLean talked about a limestone quarry where property values increased with expansion around a lake created by the mining. Also a paired study took land transactions and sales values of a similar size, and it was not proven the residents suffered any land value deduction due to the limestone quarry. David Clements reported two houses sold on the haul route were within the assessed value or above the assessed value.
Tom Short pointed out that Preferred Sands did not file for a change in land use according to Chapter 20. Preferred Sands indicated they were not aware of this form and would complete the form for a map change in land use.
There were comments on trucks not hauling on road haul routes and not following the rules. Preferred Sands indicated this was not with their mining business and this needs to be dealt with.
Doug Zwiefelhofer expressed that both parties need to give in what they have the most of for negotiations to proceed.
Tom Short made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 10:39 pm. Scott Johnson seconded the motion. The motion carried 5-0.
Typed: April 19, 2011 Victoria Trinko Town Clerk