First published on WIvoices.org
Four days from now, on December 17, citizens in Glenwood City will finally be able to voice their opinion on the fate of their small Wisconsin community which has been grappling with frac sand issues for the last couple of years.
As reported by WI Voices in August 2012, The Café owner, Jim Laskin detailed the issues that a potential 400 acre frac sand mine proposed less than ½ mile from the public school might have on the lives of the thousands of people who live in the area.
In February 2013 interview with WI Voices, St. Croix County Zoning official Alex Blackburn explained that Vista Sand’s mining application would need to follow the existing ordinance. Specifically, Vista Sand “can only have 20 acres open at a time.” Blackburn explained that this includes all the processing facilities as well. “So, they will have to reclaim as they go.”
Explained as a “Plan B” to the more restrictive county route, property owner and Kwik Trip CFO Scott Teigen then approached Glenwood City in March 2013 about annexing his property. Annexation would shift regulatory responsibilities away from St. Croix County to Glenwood City. In this WI Voices video, Teigen explains the potential benefits to area residents including the promise of “$250,000 annually and potentially 50-60 jobs.”
Citizens balked at the notion of annexation and voiced environmental, health, property, and aesthetic concerns about the frac sand mine in public meetings captured by WI Voices in March and August 2013. Citizens also produced a referendum petition signed by over 50% of registered voters seeking a vote prior to consideration of Teigen’s annexation request.
To the frustration of many residents, the Glenwood City council choose to table the discussion of a referendum and enter into negotiations with Vista Sand. Recall efforts began shortly thereafter.
Glenwood City has gained state and national attention. The Huffington Post reported that “those residents who welcome the mine’s promises of wealth and prosperity have squared off against those who fear its consequences to their health, way of life and property values.” The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism recently reported that Glenwood’s City’s recall election “is shaping up to be a fight for the community’s future.”
New Richmond News recently published a Q&A for all candidates running in this recall election. Challengers Ken Peterson (Mayoral candidate), Chris Schone, and Barbara Standaert answered questions about their views on frac sand mining, the central issue in this election. Incumbents Mayor John Larson, and city council members Nancy Hover and Dave Graese declined to answer.
So as the dust settles on Tuesday, all eyes are on the small Glenwood community.
As for Jim Laskin, he is looking forward to a resolution. “On December 17th we find out if Glenwood’s voters want a silica sand mine next to their school. Yes or no? All bets are off.”
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