By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
Ste. Genevieve County Health Board members agreed to wait on issuing a health ordinance opposing silica sand mining – but not to wait too long.
After some spirited debate during a special meeting last Friday, the board agreed to wait to see what the county commission did Monday morning. It was anticipated that the commissioners might well pass an ordinance placing setbacks or other requirements on mining operations that would impact the silica sand mine Nexgen Silica, LLC is wanting to open in northern Sate. Genevieve County.
The members also agreed that they needed to take action prior to the public meeting this Thursday night, during which Nexgen Silica will provide information to the public. The fear was that the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) would grant Nexgen Silica a permit at the meeting, thus “grandfathering” the company in and exempting it from any subsequent restrictions the county or health board might pass.
Monday morning, the county commission did vote to adopt an ordinance requiring all mining operations to be no closer than one mile from the defined limits of a city, town or village, church, school platted subdivision, ball field, recreational area, or public or private wells used for getting potable water. It also cannot be within three-quarters of a mile from any occupied dwelling.
The health board agreed to hold another special meeting at 4 p.m., this Tuesday, to address the situation.
During the meeting Friday, an update was given on recent meetings Operation Sand, LLC (a group opposing the silica mine) and its attorney Steve Jeffery had had with the county commissioners. During a meeting the previous Tuesday, the county’s attorney, Ivan Schraeder, called and rebutted arguments Jeffery had made that the commission does have the authority to enact such ordinances.
Jeffery and Operation Sand members again attended last Thursday’s commission meeting, with Jeffery responding to Schraeder’s comments.