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County denies sand mine permit

Area residents turned out for the Waupaca County Planning and Zoning Committee meeting Tuesday, Aug. 22, when the permit for a sand mine in Scandinavia and Iola was denied by a 3-2 vote. Holly Neumann Photo

Proponents have 30 days to appeal

By Holly Neumann

Waupaca County denied the conditional use permit (CUP) for a sand and gravel mine in Scandinavia.

County Planning and Zoning Committee members voted 3-2 against the proposed mine, proposed by Faulks Bros. Construction and the Iola Car Show.

Staff with the Planning and Zoning Office recommended approval of the mine.

Zoning Administrator Jason Snyder read the recommendation, along with 28 conditions for approval.

“I think that everything that can be addressed, is addressed,” said Jim Nygaard, who chairs the Planning and Zoning Committee.

After a motion by DuWayne Federwitz to approve the application, further discussion took place.

Supervisor Joe McClone asked his colleagues if they would have a problem with a mine near their property. While Federwitz answered no, Supervisors Cindy Hardy and Wayne Wilfuer answered yes.

McClone received applause from the audience, when he stated, “I think it is unAmerican if we don’t follow what our townships and villages have requested. Either way, it’s not going to get resolved here. That is what the court systems are for.”

Attorney Diane Meulemans reminded the Planning and Zoning Committee of Wisconsin Act 67.

“The statute has changed to say that the Zoning Board shall approve an application if the conditions currently or will in the future mitigate any concerns,” she said. “By not approving the CUP with the 28 conditions, this body is not complying with the statute. It is up to this body to be compliant with this statute.”

Committee members Nygaard and Federwitz voted in favor of the CUP while Cindy Hardy, McClone and Wilfuer voted against it.

The audience applauded the committee for their decision.

Helene Pohl, who participated in the county’s comprehensive planning process, said she feels that an honest decision was made.

“Our elected representatives who voted against the CUP, listened to the vote of the people,” Pohl said. “The voice of the people is not unsubstantial evidence. They spoke in comprehensive planning, they were surveyed, they spoke against the mine and they spoke to keep their rural character. To me, that is substantial evidence.”

Does decision comply with law?

Following the meeting, Jon Faulks of Faulks Bros. said it was both surprising and concerning that three of the five Zoning Committee members went against their oath and responsibilities and voted against a legally permitible CUP.

“Their decision not to comply with law is worrisome for businesses as well as individuals in Waupaca County,” he said. “The next steps will be important for the community to pay attention to.”

Joe Opperman, executive director of the Iola Car Show, declined to comment.

According to Planning and Zoning Director Ryan Brown, the applicant has 30 days to appeal the decision.

Greg Ambrosius, who has led the No Iola Sand Mine group, asked that the Iola Car Show to drop this project and move on.

“We need to heal as a community,” he said.

If appealed, Ambrosius said the group will not give up on this fight.

“The facts are on our side,” he said. “This is not the place for a sand mine.”

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