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home : opinions : our editorials November 20, 2014


7/16/2014 12:21:00 PM
Moratorium is good idea
The Rice Lake Chronotype

The Town of Dovre Board is holding a public hearing Tuesday night, July 15 on whether or not to enact a 2-year nonmetallic mining moratorium in the township. The three operating frac sand drying plants, three operating mines, two other planned drying plants and proposed 4.7-mile sand conveyor system would not be subject to the moratorium. But with this much frac sand action in the rural township, taking time to re-evaluate the industry presence there is a good idea.
All of this development has popped up in less than 4 years, giving the small community little chance to brace itself for the explosive industry. Eventually, after some sand mining had begun, a nonmetallic mining ordinance was adopted late in 2012.
Now the town is considering using a highway safety specialist to evaluate the heavy truck traffic, hiring a firm to assess environmental impact, reviewing the property value guarantee program and rewriting the town's comprehensive plan. This shows there is a reason for the moratorium. As a document signed by Town Board members states, "We believe we have an obligation to stop and assess the impacts in order to chart the best course for the future."
Trucks come one after another on Hwy. AA and a few town roads to serve two operations. Two additional plants may double the amount of trucks and impact to residents. Truck traffic is one of the key factors affecting residents' quality of life and property values. Those residents would be best served with a fair property value guarantee. Environmental impact is unknown, as the state has offered little study of the booming industry. And certainly no one felt this boom coming when the town's comprehensive plan was written in 2006.
Local control has been important in making a place for the frac sand industry in a responsible way. Towns have filled in gaps in state and federal regulation with their own ordinances. Just to the west of Dovre is the Town of Sioux Creek, which used a 1-year moratorium to draft an ordinance regulating mines and creating royalty payments to the town before any development began.
There is no disputing that frac sand has created both economic benefits for some and lowered quality of life for others. Putting the brakes on new growth might be the best way to find a balance favorable for all residents in one of state's hottest spots for sand. The town is doing the right thing to give all concerned an opportunity to weigh in on an issue critical to the community's future.

[The editorials that appear weekly in this space are the views of the newspaper as determined by The Chronotype's editorial board. All editorials are written by one or more members of the board, which consists of Warren Dorrance, Sam Finazzo, Ryan Urban and Eileen Nimm.]

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