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LSP to host workshop on ‘How to Use Township Rights to Control Frac Sand Mining” in Rushford August 30


Fri, Aug 24th, 2012
Posted in Rushford Government

A workshop on how to use township zoning powers to control or ban frac sand mining and processing will be held by the Land Stewardship Project in the southeast Minnesota communities of Frontenac and Rushford in August. On Thursday, Aug. 23, the workshop will be in Frontenac at the Sportsman’s Club and Community Center. On Thursday, Aug. 30, it will be held in Rushford at St. Joseph Catholic Church. Both workshops run from 5 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Space is limited and a registration is required by contacting Bobby King at 612-722-6377 or bking@landstewardshipproject.org or online at www.landstewardshipproject.org. The cost is $10, payable at the door.

Frac sand mining, also called silica sand mining, has been devastating to rural communities in Wisconsin, where it moved in quickly before the tremendous negative impacts were fully understood. Mining interests are now buying land in southeast Minnesota and applying for permits.

“We want Minnesota townships to know that they have the right to restrict or ban silica sand mining,” said Bobby King, a policy organizer with the Land Stewardship Project. “The corporate interests pushing these frac sand mines often threaten lawsuits, so we want townships to understand their rights and how to properly use them so if they are challenged in court, they win.”

The workshop was created in response to calls from township residents for more information on how the threat of frac sand mining and processing can be dealt with at the township level. The state of Minnesota has not taken any meaningful action on this issue, despite the evidence in Wisconsin of the harm posed by this type of mining. While southeast Minnesota counties have adopted moratoriums on frac sand mining, many township residents are concerned that adequate county level protections will not be put in place before the moratoriums expire.

In Minnesota, townships have strong zoning authority at their disposal if they choose to use it. Townships can adopt local ordinances that are more restrictive than those at the county level. Many township residents are realizing that it may be up to the township to use this power to make sure the community is protected from the outside corporate interests proposing these large-scale silica sand mines and processing areas.

Presenters include some of the state’s leading experts in township rights and zoning:

•Nancy Barsness has been the clerk and zoning administrator in Pope County’s New Prairie Township for over 30 years. As a consultant for townships, she has helped write ordinances for more than 30 townships.

•Jim Peters is an attorney who has worked with and represented townships across the state. He has helped townships adopt moratoriums and land-use ordinances in response to unwanted development and successfully defended township ordinances in court.

•David Williams is a township officer from Fillmore County’s Preble Township, and an attorney with expertise in township zoning. He has developed a common sense framework for how townships can approach the issue of using zoning to control silica sand mines.

•Kristen Eide-Tollefson is on the township planning commission of Goodhue County’s Frontenac Township, which has developed a comprehensive plan and ordinances to protect the township’s natural resources. The township is in the process of updating its ordinances to address silica sand mines.

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