TOWN OF COOKS VALLEY
SPECIAL TOWN BOARD MEETING
November 5, 2008
The Special Town Board meeting of the Town of Cooks Valley was called to order on November 5, 2008 at the Cooks Valley Town Hall located at 15751 40th Street at 8:00 pm by Chairman Ron Fanetti. Supervisors present were David Clements and Gary Yakesh. Other officials present were Eunice Steinmetz-treasurer and Victoria Trinko-clerk. Delegation present: See attached list.
Public Comment: Earl Hassemer presented the board with studies made on the effects of mining on the migration of rivers, on water systems, on water tables, generation of extra traffic, detrimental to property values due to braking of the trucks and rattling of windows with trucks passing the house located close to the road, ruination of vegetation and destruction of the soil. A couple of cases you could look at Chippewa County federal land on State Highway 124 where one can see the devastating effects over there and how Chippewa County addressed them. We are making laws here to protect the soil and how to clean it up after they are done. They have already destroyed their soil on the Dunn county farm which has been a sore spot for a couple of townships over there where they dumped all the animal wastes in the front of the old pits that Chippewa County has. So that’s been a water problem and have had several tests on that and that has been a problem for the Town of Woodmohr and the Town of Bloomer. We don’t want to be another one of those towns that has a problem with that and take care of some of the situations beforehand. He had brochures on sand mining facts and other sites after the mining is done and the sites have been abandoned. The permits we are talking about would address these problems and have some kind of reclamation plan in place when and if this is done 20 or 40 years from now. As a public concerned person he would like all this has to be looked at and look at all the facts before making decisions.
Erin Borofka asked, “Is there an environmental Impact study required?” Gary Yakesh replied an environmental impact study is generally required when there is an endangered species involved.
Glenn Stoddard- as a town, a town can require through its application process some analysis or information on issues you are concerned about,
Rudy Oblak- As he has looked at other townships around us, St. Croix has a good non-metallic mining ordinance which he had a copy that we can look at. He is not opposed to sand mines in Cooks Valley, would not say no to a resident having a sand mine and would not do a sand mine himself but felt we need to smartly have a look at the overall impact to the town and residents . In reading a survey done a year back it would appear based on those results the majority of the residents in Cooks Valley feel that way also. He had no issue with people making as much money as they can as long as it is not at his personal expense in relation to property values and risk to his family.
Erin Borofka-Who actually bonds the roads- a private party, is the landowner responsible for that bonding, how can you mandate a company to bond it when the landowner owns it?
Glenn Stoddard- Depending on what the ordinance would require and the town board would require for conditions, depending on how the ordinance turns and what the town board decides it is possible to put a condition on a permit, to address issues, roads, bonding-particularly town roads. If you are talking about a private access road on the land that has been released, that is not going to be bonded. The town has quite a lot of authority and could exercise that authority through the ordinance and the permitting process to protect the town roads, to provide security to make sure they are maintained if they are beaten up by heavy traffic.
Question-Can the Town state a dollar amount?
Glenn Stoddard- there are ways other than bonding - could put in a requirement that the road would be maintained, could secure that with bonding or a letter of credit. The town can do this but would depend on the ordinance as it is filed and the board in reviewing an application and seeing what they thought needed to be done in that situation.
Libby Quinn-she is supporting of the others with concerns for the valuation of property.
Barry Quinn-Concerning the hours of operation, he feels the hours of operation are too long.
Glenn Stoddard- that’s another issue the board could address depending on the process with its specific applications and how they develop the ordinance. They could limit the hours. That is commonly done with regulating businesses through permits.
Wendy LaGesse- you regulate one set of trucks for one thing with this, are you going to regulate all the trucks? We have a lot of trucks on these roads, are you going to regulate them all?
Glenn Stoddard-this ordinance that is being discussed is specific to the non-metallic mining so at least in the terms it has been drafted so far the initial ordinance and the discussions the town is interested in having amendments. It would apply to a specific mining operation and the operations going in and out of that that would be what would be regulated. It would not be a general regulation on truck traffic per se.
Wendy LaGesse-Wouldn’t this be considered discrimination?
Wendy LaGesse-As a farmer, I can go out and about in my field for 24 hrs a day, be right next to my neighbor, with a loud combine, trucks running on the road, and that’s okay.
Gary Yakesh commented that trucks were hauling chopped corn by his house 10 minutes a day for two days, and then they were done, it’s not non-stop. With mining it would be every day all the time. Farming is more seasonal and mining is not seasonal.
Mark Berge-The sand mining plant in Menomonie operates until 11:00 at night and it is very noisy. He would not appreciate these hours. It also is very dusty.
Erin Borofka-Are there provisions for dust?
The state regulates it somewhat.
Glenn Stoddard –It was my understanding that the purpose of tonight’s meeting is to get this kind of input to the town board and then go over the existing ordinance and come up with a comprehensive amendment that would address the concerns of the town people that are here expressing . That is something the town board could incorporate.
Alan Schlaugat- in the Town of Howard they are going through their ordinance and discussing changes looking at limiting hours of operation, length of the permit-limiting any permit to one year-and to a renewal basis on a review, looking at dust, looking at it instead of a control ordinance as a nuisance ordinance [things that happen there would be considered a nuisance and regulate from that point of view rather impacting anything that would happen there at the hole, that would alleviate any county concerns. They plan to incorporate committees to get more community involvement.
Ron Fanetti- reviewed the tentative permit as to the contents ie. Hours of operation, distance from wells and structures, length of permits and reissued if conditions are met, follow county reclamation ordinance, covering trucks, testing of quality of wells close to the mine, performance bonds on roads, etc. All the information that is required on the permit. Application also has information required on it.
Jane Sonnentag-Do you have a set parameter for the testing of the wells in these areas? Have you also thought about doing testing of structure damage? They can cause damage up to two miles away-that’s what I heard at the Howard meeting. If the mine company is found in violation of these agreements, will that immediately suspend the mining until they are taken care of and for what period of time?
Ron Fanetti-if the alternate is the permit is revoked.
Glenn Stoddard-it depends on what you put in the ordinance. feels the ordinance needs more details and to be fleshed out. The process here is to get input to address issues and language the town board feels comfortable with and address the concerns in a fair and reasonable way.
Jane Sonnetag-this should be hammered out in a little more detail. You can make all these stipulations but if it’s not going to be enforced and if there is no ramifications for violating the stipulations, why have them? It would be just business as usual, why bother.
Glenn Stoddard –that is the way ordinances are written, so if there is a violation of a permit or terms of a permit, it can either be revoked or the town can require compliance through some sort of process that brings the company in compliance. He passed out copies of a draft of proposed changes to the mining ordinance. He talked about the letter the County Administrator had written taking exception to the town’s ordinance and asserting that the Town of Cooks Valley and the Town of Howard mining ordinance was improperly adopted and is a zoning ordinance that is beyond the authority of the town to adopts because the county has county zoning. This letter was written to Chairman Fanetti and Chairman Schindler in the Town of Howard because both towns have identical ordinances. Glenn Stoddard talked with Attorney Steve Gibbs about this, who represents the Town of Howard. He did additional research on the issues, read the letter from the City Administrator and the draft of a letter he recommended to send to the County Administrator with an attached unpublished decision from the Court of Appeals. He had a copy of the letter attorney Gibbs was sending to the County Administrator on behalf of the Town of Howard. He looked at the argument made by the County Administrator, who he felt had input from the corporation council. And apparently the County Administrator had read a copy of Glenn Stoddard’s letter to the Weld, Riley firm. The County Administrator took exception to Glenn Stoddard’s analysis in that letter. Glenn Stoddard feels the letter he wrote to Weld, Riley, in response to the claim was correct. As a town having village powers we have the authority go enact ordinances, power to regulate for the general public safety, health and general welfare and as long as it is reasonable we as a town can exercise that authority without going through county zoning. We have broader police power to regulate license for dogs, require setbacks, and building permits. We could go through zoning, which is setting up districts, but it is not as detailed as we would need for a specific business. He read his draft to Mr. Reynolds to the public. Unless a court of laws tells us differently, the town will continue to enforce the ordinance. He read a letter from Brian Nodolf of Weld, Riley concerning Loren Zwiefelhofer property and a letter from Jeffrey Buchner. The letter from Attorney Thiel and Nodolf is referring to an existing mining operation and the ordinance is invalid. They are requesting a response from us and if they do not hear from us they assume we agree with their position. He says their assertion if we don’t answer is meaningless and they are trying to corner us to a reply. The intent of the ordinance is if there is something out there in existence (a small farm pit) they are not subject to the requirements under the ordinance but if they expand an existing operation into a commercial operation and something that would meet the definition of a new operation; they would require a permit and come under the ordinance. As a matter of law, generally under these kinds of ordinances and zoning ordinances are Non-conforming uses which are preexisting uses in businesses or developments, in this case you are talking about mines. And those kinds of uses have vested rights to continue unless they are causing a nuisance or health or safety problem that could be regulated strictly on that basis you can not require them to come back through a permitting process and shut them down. But if they try to expand in any way that falls under the ordinance then you can require them to go through the permitting process.
Glenn Stoddard went through the proposed changes, added words, and omitted words to the mining ordinance. The changes include words from the draft that Gary Yakesh had sent to Glenn Stoddard. Gary Yakesh explained the proposed removal of the word ‘Metallic’ from the name of the ordinance was due the amount of paper work required for a metallic mine at the state and county level that we would not need paper work at the local level. Glenn Stoddard added state statutes to make clear this is not a zoning ordinance but strictly a police power ordinance. An application form, which needs to be approved as well, would be an appendix to the mining ordinance and be provided by the town clerk to anyone interested in applying. Glenn Stoddard read the addition to the exceptions provision submitted by Gary Yakesh and additions proposed by him. The town should not go beyond the boundaries of the ordinance in regards to economics or competition with the mine. The permit read by Ron Fanetti could be used as a guide and not adopted but modify it depending on the specific proposal. The town board will need to revise and adopt the application form along with the proposed changes to the ordinance.
Gary Yakesh read the letter he had written to the plan commission on September 22, 2008 regarding the reason for section 2.08 in the mining ordinance.
Jane Sonnetag requested that he reread the enforcement of violations and will mining be suspended if violations are discovered. There was discussion if the dollar amounts were enough to deter violations. In the permit there would be conditions on a case by case basis, where the town board would sit down with the applicant to work out language in the permit that the applicant could comply with and the town would be satisfied with to protect the public. This is where you would put all the conditions in the permit to be compiled with and not to put all this in the ordinance would be overkill and limit the flexibility to the town board in dealing with the applicant.
Allan Schlaugat- Why do we not require approval of permits and reclamation plan before coming to the town board for an application? Glenn Stoddard felt it is important to encourage the applicant to approach the town early on in the process and be aware of what the concerns are of the town and plan commission as the town is the most directly affected thereby averting litigation and cost. After discovering the concerns the applicant could go out and get the permits and avert money spent to get the permit and then have the town reject the permit. This is to be proactive from the town’s standpoint and conscious of the applicant’s expense. If an ordinance is overly restrictive it becomes a ban. The town should make clear the ordinance is not a ban but to regulate.
Erin Borofka asked about water and wells to get tested. It was felt this would be addressed in the permit.
David Clements made a motion that Glenn Stoddard should respond to the letters the township has received. Gary Yakesh seconded the motion. The motion carried 3-0.
There was discussion on posting and publication of the proposed changes to Chapter 19 Mining Ordinance with the public hearing and a town board meeting to follow on November 20, 2008.
Ron Fanetti reviewed the items on the application form. Gary Yakesh suggested adding ‘expected maximum depth of the mine _______feet with a benchmark ie. ground cover, sea level, road elevation’. There was discussion on explosive usage in mining.
Glenn Stoddard explained the application process. At the time of the permit, the town can put in conditions to refine the permit to address the specific problems related to specific projects. The changes to the permits should be fluid with each with each application. There was a question of someone bringing something undesirable back into the pit after it has been dug. There was the example of the Town Of Bloomer where the county brought in deer carcasses into the town and burying them.
Ron Fanetti made a motion to adjourn the meeting at 9:30 pm. David Clements seconded the motion. The motion passed 3-0.
Draft: 11-29-08 Victoria Trinko
Approved: Dec. 17 2008 Town Clerk