After attending another hearing/meeting of the Town of Howard Board in Chippewa County relating to a proposed 1,300-acre sand mine by Northern Sands, it’s quite evident that the town of Colfax could use some support from Dunn County.
Dunn County can’t bury its head in the sand. This proposed sand mine butts up against County Highway A and County Highway N. Does a county road prevent the contamination of groundwater in the town of Colfax? Does the nuisance of an industrial sand mine running 24 hours a day have an effect on residents living in the town of Colfax? How about the property values of the existing residents in the town of Colfax in Dunn County? Many residents invested in their most precious asset: their homes.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, there are 128 sand mines in Wisconsin already. How many more does this state need?
Chippewa County has 10 at this point in time. At the crux of the problem is that Howard Township doesn’t have zoning, while the town of Colfax has Dunn County zoning. With the town of Howard not having zoning in place, it creates a whole new ballgame, and these sand mining corporations know it.
This proposed sand mine will have a railroad spur as well. Many questions were asked by local residents at the meeting, with not very complete answers. One of the attendees worked at a sand mine and he had extreme concerns about groundwater. In the Northern Sands proposal it states that this sand mine would stay 10 feet above the groundwater level. The gentleman stated that groundwater levels can fluctuate depending on the quantity of rain in a season.
Also, the sand piles will not be covered. What happens to sand when we get substantial winds? It’s very clear that the majority of residents in the town of Howard and the town of Colfax do not want this sand mine, but a few residents made a lot of money selling their land.
It was stated that the Howard Town Board has to make a decision in a public meeting; it can’t make a decision in a private setting. What seems disturbing is that many residents in the area are unaware of this situation.
Dunn County has county board supervisors representing the town of Colfax and the village of Colfax as well. Should Dunn County at least make an effort to attend these meetings to be well informed? Can air quality and groundwater contamination be an issue for Dunn County residents living in this immediate area? Dunn County, where are you?
—Terry Nichols, Colfax