A 45-acre Non-metallic mine proposal for the town of Skanawan is covered in detail in the 1/10/17 Tomahawk Leader. A hearing will be held Thursday, Jan. 12 at 4 p.m. before the Lincoln County Land Services Committee in Room 257 of the Lincoln County Service Center, 801 N. Sales St., Merrill.
This press release was received after publication of the Jan. 10 Tomahawk Leader:
Conditional use permit application strongly opposed by Town Board and
overwhelming majority of Town of Skanawan residents and property owners
By Michael P. Heise, President of Skanawan Property Owners Association, U.A.
January 9, 2017
Town of Skanawan, WI – The Lincoln County Land Services Committee will
be holding a public hearing on Thursday, January 12 at 4:00 pm regarding the
conditional use permit application submitted by County Materials Corporation
and Daigle’s Oak Hills LLC (collectively, the “applicants”). The applicants are
requesting a conditional use permit to operate a non-metallic mine in the
center of the Town of Skanawan.
The application is opposed by the Town Board of Skanawan, the vast majority
of its residents and property owners, and the Skanawan Property Owners
Association, U.A.. The Town Board formally submitted its recommendation to
deny the conditional use permit in July of 2016, and will resubmit its
recommendation before the hearing on Thursday.
The conditional use permit application was originally submitted in early 2015,
and the Lincoln County Land Services Committee held its first public hearing
on the matter in April of 2015. However, the application was kept very quiet and
formal notice was issued to the minimum number of residents and owners
required by law. Word did not spread of the application until only a week
before the April 2015 hearing, at which point several concerned individuals took
it upon themselves to stage an opposition. The Committee decided to hold over
its decision, and the Town Board of Skanawan requested that it be given
additional time to review the application, request more information, consult
legal counsel, and receive input from Town residents and property owners.
After several Town Hall meetings, hearings, and correspondence from the
Town’s constituents, the Board decided, by a 2-0 vote (one Board member
recused himself due to a potential conflict of interest) to recommend to the
Committee that it deny the application.
The Board’s recommendation was based on several factors, including the
application’s failure to meet certain Lincoln County Zoning Code standards (see
17.8.30(7) of Lincoln County Code of Ordinances), non-compliance with the
Town’s Land Use Plan, and the inadequate Staff Report issued by the Lincoln
County Land Services Department. The Town Board also based its
recommendation on the outpouring of opposition from those who live and own
property in the Town, whose primary concerns are diminished property values,
drastic change to the quiet and rural character of the community, an
unreasonable risk of traffic hazards, diminished quality of life, and air, noise,
and potential groundwater pollution.
The Skanawan Property Owners Association shares the same concerns of the
Board and Town constituents, but has additional concerns regarding the
intentions of the applicants. Although they have formally requested a permit
for 45 acres of mining, the applicants own upwards of 400 acres of contiguous
parcels. The Association’s concern is that the applicants may have a legal basis
to expand operations onto all contiguous parcels without the need to return to
Lincoln County for additional permits by way of the diminishing asset rule.
This concern is compounded by the fact that certain Wisconsin lawmakers have
made attempts to expand the reach of this rule in an effort to make an end-run
around local government for the benefit of mineral extraction corporations.
The Association is further persuaded by the actions of the applicants, which
include the clear cutting of hundreds of acres of forest on the property and
their refusal to attach deed restrictions to surrounding parcels.
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