Chairman Ron Fanetti called the meeting to order on October 13, 2008 at 8:00 pm. The supervisors present were: David Clements and Gary Yakesh. Delegation present were: Victoria Trinko-clerk, Eunice Steinmetz-treasurer, and see the attached attendance sheet for residents and associates attending the meeting.
Brian Nodolf requested leaving public comment prior to the closed session.
Gary Yakesh made a motion to place agenda items 3-4-5-6- before agenda item 2 Public Comment, then go to item 2 and then proceed into closed session. David Clements seconded the motion. The motion carried 3-0.
David Clements made a motion to accept and place on file the minutes of the September 8, 2008 regular meeting and minutes of the September 17, 2008 special town board meeting. Gary Yakesh seconded the motion. The motion carried 3-0.
Gary Yakesh made a motion to approve the October financial report. David Clements seconded the motion. The motion carried 3-0.
David Clements made a motion to approve the payment of the September bills. Gary Yakesh seconded the motion. The motion carried 3-0.
Gary Yakesh made a motion to postpone discussion and possible action on budget categories until the next regular town meeting. David Clements seconded the motion. The motion carried 3-0
PUBLIC COMMENT: Brian Nodolf of Weld, Riley, Prenn & Ricci representing Loren Zwiefelhofer, Glenn Sarauer, Jeff Buchner, Donald Prill, Sam LaGesse, David LaGesse, Bill Schindler, and Geraldine Robinson asked to speak. On behalf of his group, they want to go on public record as having nothing to do with the letter signed Township of Cooks Valley Landowners. He and the company he represents deals with land and zoning ordinances and helping people seek ways to make the best use of their property land and the township’s responsibility is to provide limited guidance. His firm has provided the town’s lawyer with a letter saying this mining ordinance is invalid, so any restrictions of the ordinance on preexisting mines are invalid and the moratorium is inappropriate. The opposition to the mining is based on offensive nature or dangerous... In this case, there has been no empirical evidence brought forth on dangers from mining but all based on scare. The landowners want to use their land to its highest and best use. The township’s responsibility is to protect the town and that can be done by maintaining the status quo.
Question: how much time is to be allowed for each person to speak?
Loren Zwiefelhofer stated the mining does not want to cause damage to wells but control the dust and not ruin the land. Geraldine Robinson does not reside in the township.
Sam LaGesse feels they are being persecuted everybody’s painting a picture that hasn’t happened yet, no one wants to wreck their own property for greed and it seems like we’re getting put in that position already.
Jane Sonnetag expressed concerns about protecting the town that we do not have all the facts concerning how the mining will affect our wells and the water table, how adding traffic will affect our roads, what the silica is going to do, adding more noise, people and businesses coming in that are not part of this community –how long will they stay here?-and how this benefits or affects everyone.
Erin Borofka does not know if anyone is completely opposed to the mining but cautioned that we should not act hastily and be well organized. She was appalled at the letter written to Ron Fanetti threatening him with a civil lawsuit if he signed a mining moratorium tonight and did not feel this was random but probably from someone who would benefit from it and not from all the landowners in Cooks Valley and which also threatens to sue our Township for close to a million dollars that would come back to burden every member of the township. David LaGesse said that truck traffic has not been established yet as far as he knows and we got farm traffic out here already.
Linda Blair -Response to Mr. Nodolf about what may or may not happen ie. Destroying the water table, destroying the air quality, these would not be a minor inconvenience to those who live in the township. Why are they not in favor of finding out whether there is evidence to support those claims and finding out whether that evidence is sufficient that there ought to be some kind of limitation on it? In general she is in favor of private property rights, but if there is something that is going to be so egregious she thinks we have a duty incumbent upon us as owners and fellow citizens to determine if the facts do support some kind of change or some kind of ordinance.
Glenn Sarauer commented to his knowledge there has ever been a problem with water quality or water table in Chippewa County so feels that is not an issue on this at all.
Question about any studies on sand mining been done in Chippewa County?
Andy Shakal feels confident that a workable solution can be arrived at and Loren Zwiefelhofer, Glenn Sarauer and the others do not want to do damage to the township and understands the concerns of the people not doing the mining of the risk involved and not knowing the potential risks [if the water table should go bad, there definitely is dust involved,] and how many people would be affected is unknown. It would allay the fears of a lot of people if reasonable things were put in place that If there is potential risk it would be good to have a plan in place to address these issues if and when they would arise. It would go a long way with him if something untoward happens or occurs, we have a plan in place. There was a comment about how property values may change, if there was an environmental impact study done, do we know what would happen with a project this big, with the traffic and noise is going to impact everybody and how they would restore the land?
Ron Fanetti commented that is covered by a county based reclamation plan. They will have to fill out a county reclamation plan- which is quite extensive.
Loren Zwiefelhofer provided two studies done by Patricia Schimmel, Chippewa County Treasurer, on houses located near large mining sites in Chippewa County and good houses located on good farm land or good areas to have houses. There was no difference on anything over years in progression of land value or house value. There was an estimated economic impact sand project study. There were no health studies.
Question about a law suit. Mr. Nodolf commented there is a claim- a potential precursor to a law suit; but no lawsuit. He further stated from his own personal knowledge Chippewa County has been dealing with mining for a number of years. He has dealt with several of these projects. In his opinion, these are fears that are unfounded. The county has dealt with these issues in reclamation plans and in terms of whether or not they choose to pass additional requirements. He finds it hard to believe the county board would leave so many unsafe physical issues for other towns; this does not have a whole lot to do with safety but a lot to do with Nimbyism which means it is just fine as long as it’s not in my back yard.
Gary Yakesh asked if the Chippewa County is concerned about the mine operations at its onset and operation or are they more concerned about its reclamation when it gets done?
Brian Nodolf replied the county ordinance focuses more on the reclamation.
David Clements commented that we do not know the long term effect of this would be and gave an example of atrizene is now in the water. He felt that most people here are worried about is how it will be 20-25 years down the road. Everybody is gone, the reclamation is done and now what happens? If the filtration system is gone, anything can get in, once you get down to bedrock. He hasn’t seen an environmental impact study of what could happen, the feasibility of stuff that could go wrong. If there is a 300 foot hole down there and the average well around here is 100-120 feet, if you are a 100 feet below the wells, your ground water travels at a snail’s pace, it takes a long time to travel from point A to point B and that is what we don’t know.
Question: What kind of bonding or insurance do you guys need to cover if something happens? Explanation of bonding- it is an assurance if criteria were not met the bonding would be activated and those funds are used to complete the reclamation plan- about $4000 an acre. If a landowner engaged in mining activities that impacts another person’s property, they are liable under certain scenarios and they are going to be held accountable. The person bringing the claim has the burden of proof.
In answer to how long the bond lasts, Brian Nodolf is not familiar with the County’s reclamation plan. They do a reclamation check and once all the things have been checked off, the bond is returned or nullified depending on how they are issued. This does not involve air quality or surrounding property, just the land involved in the mining.
Ron Fanetti and others that have talked to him- what about township roads that are used? Our roads simply will not take the traffic on the roads. We can barely keep up fixing the roads. What assurance do the rest of the people have if you destroy our roads that you will take responsibility and help the rest of us out?
Gary Yakesh reported that the county is concerned with reclamation not the process of mining. David LaGesse said a trucking company is going to have arrangements up front to have the roads bonded.
Brian Nodolf asked if our roads are substandard and are we going to address every industry that has trucking?
We have not had an application presented to the board.
We need facts about the mining operation in regard to the number of trucks, the kind of sand, and other concerns.
Glenn Stoddard, town’s attorney, asked attorney Nodolf, are there any people in the township planning to apply for an application or permit or is this more speculative? As far as Brian Nodolf knows there are no plans for submitting the applications. Glenn Stoddard would like a copy of the reclamation plan. They will provide us with information with regard to the steps taken for applications. This information is important due to the time frames and all the questions that have been raised on both sides of this issue and should be presented to the town board as soon as possible.
Statement made that the attorney has stated it’s not about the safety but not in my back yard, and no one tonight has said ‘not in my back yard.’ Resident doesn’t mind as long as we are all willing to pay with the roads, if you are willing to pay , what’s wrong with buying the permits and paying for the roads? Bond yourselves and why are you getting up in arms for?
Ron Fanetti made a comment thanking Loren Zwiefelhofer for the call he received from Loren Zwiefelhofer stating the people represented by Weld, Riley, Prenn & Ricci had nothing to do with the letter he received threatening a civil law suit, allegations were made to his honesty, and other insinuations.
Gary Yakesh made a motion to go into closed session pursuant to Wis. State Statute 19.83 & 19.85 (1) (g) to confer with legal counsel for the Town about pending litigation. David Clements seconded the motion. The motion carried 3-0.
Discussion in closed session was in regard to threatened litigation regarding the mining ordinance. David Clements made a motion to go into open session. Gary Yakesh seconded the motion. The motion carried 3-0.
David Clements made a motion to postpone agenda item 7-discussion and possible action on Section 2.08 of Chapter 19 Mining Ordinance-definition and clarification of David LaGesse's Mining operation and agenda item 8 notices of existing min/pit re. Section 2.08 Chapter 19 Mining Ordinance-Jeff Buchner, Glenn Sarauer to the next regular town meeting. Gary Yakesh seconded the motion. The motion carried 3-0.
David Clements made a motion to postpone items 3, 4, 5 that were tabled at the special town meeting on September 17, 2008. Gary Yakesh seconded the motion. The motion carried 3-0.
Gary Yakesh made a motion to place a three-month moratorium on mining operations. David Clements seconded the motion. The motion carried 3-0.
Sept 19th and 20th –requests by Melanie Triplett of Seigel. Brill, Greupner, Duffy & Foster for copies of the mining ordinance, application, and permit for a client who wants to do sand mine.
Sept. 24th-requust from Loren Zwiefelhofer for copies of the minutes from May 1st to the present and mining ordinance. Due to the fact these were for his lawyer, he was charged .25 per copy.
Sept. 25, Loren Zwiefelhofer picked of the copies he requested. Bridget M. Finke of Bakke-Norman called and requested the clerk ignore the letter she would be receiving about the open records law and send copies of the agenda form May 1st to the present. She wouldn’t divulge who she was representing but had attended the Sept. 17, 2008 meeting after the clerk informed her that her last name was illegible.
Sept. 29- David LaGesse delivered a letter from his lawyer requesting he be placed on the agenda and the request and letter be sent to all board members. The clerk composed an agenda item which he signed and approved. The letter and request was mailed to the board members on Sept. 29, 2008 as requested.
Sept. 30- Upon receiving his letter, Ron Fanetti contacted the clerk and indicated that due to the sensitivity of this matter, the clerk should not have composed the agenda item and should contact David LaGesse concerning this matter. Sept. 30- called David LaGesse and informed him he should write the agenda item in his own words, sign it and return it to the clerk. On Sept. 30 pm-Dawn LaGesse called asking if we had a procedure in place for the placing of items on the agenda. The clerk informed her this procedure was discussed in the Public Comment in the Sept. 8 minutes. Dawn LaGesse had called the County Clerk and informed the clerk the town chairman is responsible for the agenda and all the clerk had to do was publish or post the agenda.
Oct.6- David LaGesse bought a letter from Vinopal Law Office requesting discussion on the issue of David LaGesse’s non-metallic mine/pit at the Oct. 13 2008 meeting and be grandfathered in according to Section 2.08 of Chapter 19 in the Mining Ordinance. David agreed that the agenda item previously composed and posted says the same thing as in the letter and agreed to leave the item as posted.
Oct. 8- Sam LaGesse called to find out how to do a recall as he was unhappy about an agenda item and wanted to recall the entire town board. Because he wanted an immediate answer, the clerk referred him to the County Clerk. Fifteen minutes later, Loren Zwiefelhofer called to request an audit of the township and all the reports that we have. The clerk referred him to the County Clerk.
Oct. 9- Received a letter from Weld, Riley, Prenn, & Ricci enclosed with a per SS 893.80(1) a Notice of Claim and Claim on behalf of Loran Zwiefelhofer, Glenn Sarauer, Jeff Buchner, Donald Prill, Sam LaGesse, Bill Schindler, and Geraldine Robinson with respect to issues pertain to non-metallic mining in the Town of Cooks Valley.
FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS AND BUSINESS:
Gary Yakesh made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 10:57 p.m. David Clements seconded the motion. The motion carried 3-0.
Typed November 9, 2008 Respectfully submitted,Approved Nov. 10, 2008 Victoria Trinko, town clerk