LAKE HALLIE — The Village of Lake Hallie took its first step toward a nonmetallic mining, processing and transport moratorium for the village, approving a draft ordinance at a special Thursday night meeting.
The Village Board voted 4-0 to approve a nine-month moratorium on mining, processing and transport of sand, gravel, coal and other nonmetallic materials within the village. Board member Wayne Walkoviak was absent.
The moratorium was first proposed to the board by members of the Landmark Addition neighborhood during the public comment section of a board meeting Monday night. The board then scheduled a meeting Thursday for discussion on a moratorium draft.
The Village Board worked from a template moratorium developed by the Wisconsin Towns Association, altering it for the its own needs.
Driving the moratorium is the growing frac sand industry, which has become a major presence in western Wisconsin and specifically Chippewa County. Lake Hallie does not have a frac sand mine or processing plant within the village.
As stated in the drafted language, the purpose of the moratorium is to study the effects on the local economy, property values, air and water quality, and the health and welfare of residents.
Members of the public reviewed copies of the draft moratorium at the Village Hall Thursday night, asking questions and offering input on possible changes.
Candy Anderson, a geologist for Milestone Materials, asked whether the moratorium would affect the sand and gravel operations at Milestone, since those materials fell under nonmetallic mining.
Board member Pete Lehmann said the moratorium had been adjusted before the meeting to remove “expansion of existing” operations, so Milestone Materials would not be affected.
The only change that was made during Thursday’s meeting was to amend the duration of the moratorium from six months to nine months. This was in response to a resident’s concern that six months was too short a time period to evaluate the effects of a frac sand or other nonmetallic mine, processing plant or transfer station.
Dale McGraw, who lives in the Landmark Addition neighborhood, expressed his concern that ordinances meant to protect against frac sand mines and processing plants moving to an area do not seem to “have teeth.” In particular, he referenced the potential for a frac sand company to move near his neighborhood.
“I don’t want to breathe in silica dust or diesel fumes,” said McGraw, who has been a vocal opponent of frac sand mines and processing plants in the region along with the group Concerned Chippewa Citizens.
Lehmann said the village already has ordinances in place that would offer certain protections. Regarding the area near McGraw’s home, Lehmann said the area is zoned highway-commercial, meaning a frac sand company would need the area rezoned to have a processing plant or mine. Rezoning issues come before the Village Board for approval.
This prompted some residents to question if the board could potentially change zoning to allow these companies into the village, with or without the consent of residents. Lehmann immediately dismissed this idea.
“Why would we? We’re here for the benefit of residents,” he said. “Most wouldn’t vote that way.”
Lehmann also said this moratorium will give the board time to review and close ordinance loopholes, such as the potential for a company to use land near Landmark Addition and the rail line as a transportation and transfer station.
With the first reading of the moratorium approved, the village’s attorney will review the language and the moratorium will come back before the Village Board for a second reading.