By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
With a stroke of the pen, the Missouri Mining Commission, a subsidiary of the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issued a permit to engage in surface mining to Nexgen Silica, LLC.
The permit allows the firm to mine 115 of the 249 acres Nexgen purchased long Highway 32, roughly between Glassey Lane and Miller Switch Road in the New Offenburg-Weingarten area.
Area residents, including members of Operation Sand, LLC ,have been vocal in opposing the silica sand mining since a permit was requested in March. They are not finished fighting.
“While this is not a shock, this decision cannot stand,” a post on the Operation Sand Facebook page proclaimed. “The construction and operation of a silica sand mind in this location is UNLAWFUL given Ste. Genevieve County’s Joint Health Ordinance that was enacted unanimously by the County Commission and the County Health Board.”
The joint ordinances the Ste. Genevieve County Commission and county health board passed in May place some limits on silica sand mining operations. The ordinances say no mining facility shall be located less than one-half mile from the incorporated limits of any city, town or village, or any school or property owned and operated by a school district any church, platted subdivision, park, ball field, public recreational areas, or public or private wells used for purposes of supplying potable water.
A few other restrictions also apply, involving creeks, sink holes, etc.
The ordinances have essentially tied Nexgen Silica’s hands behind its collective back, according to Roger Faulkner, owner of R & Construction and a managing partner in Nexgen.
“The ordinance put parameters on us that we would have a hard time completing what we set out to do,” Faulkner said.
That has led Nexgen to challenge the legality of the ordinances in court.
“We have petitioned the court to review the ordinance,” Faulkner said. “There were some concerns. We’re just going to wait for the court to make the decision.”
Operation Sand spokesperson Jillian Ditch Anslow expressed confidence that the ordinances will stand the challenge.