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By MARK EVANS
STE. GENEVIEVE HERALD
Nexgen Silica, LLC has dropped its lawsuit against Ste. Genevieve County.
The debate over the proposed silica sand operation was probably the most contentious local story in 2022.
The mining LLC, formed to start a silica sand mining operation on a 249-acre patch of land purchased along Highway 32 early in 2022, sued the county after it adopted an ordinance in May 2022 that placed severe restrictions on all future silica sand mining operations. The county health department approved a similar measure the same week.
Roger Faulkner, one of the Nexgen managing partners, said at the time that the ordinances would make it virtually impossible to profitably pursue the venture.
Nexgen applied for a permit in March to operate the silica sand mine. Operation Sand, LLC was quickly organized by sisters Jillian Ditch Anslow, Leigh Ditch McNail and other residents, to fight the move. The group held a public meeting at the end of April, which featured attorney Steve Jeffrey and Dr. Kim Gordon, president of Friends of Hawn. Various dangers to human and animal health were raised about the sand itself, as well as concerns about a depletion of the water table with the huge amount of water used in the process, plus the possible pollution of water aquifers. The dangers and inconveniences of heavy trucks traffic were also mentioned.
A public meeting was held at the Progress Sports Complex in May shortly after the ordinances were passed. Nexgen leaders Roger, Kyle and Kody Faulkner of Ste. Genevieve, as well as Aaron Vollrath and Bob Gerke spoke, along with Missouri Department of Natural Resources personnel. Attendees lined up to ask questions during the four-hour event. Frustration was expressed over malfunctioning microphones and other issues. More questions seemed to be raised than answered. A second public meeting was requested, but denied.
The DNR initially granted Nexgen a permit in early July to mine 115 of the 249 acres. Operation Sand then challenged the permit,
That fall, Nexgen came to an understanding with Friends of Hawn, angering Operation Sand, which broke ties with the other organization.
The commissioners expressed pleasure in hearing that the suit was being dropped.
“This is good news,” said Presiding Commissioner Randy Ruzica.
“It’s great news,” First District Commissioner Karen Stuppy agreed.
Faulkner said he intended to make a statement. However the Herald had not received it by its printing deadline.