Company fields questions about proposed mine
More than 30 residents attended an information meeting sponsored by MH Materials at the site south of Delavan Drive at Todd Drive. Company officials described their plans, which were scaled back from a plan proposed in 2006.
The entire site is 316 acres, split between the city and La Prairie Township, and company officials said they soon will start the process to annex 70 acres into the city. Only about 70 acres located just west and southwest of La Prairie Park would be mined, and 115 acres would remain farmland in the township, officials said.
Dave Anderson, the company's environmental health and safety manager, defended the company against what he said was misinformation among neighbors.
Getting a permit for the current project does not mean the company will expand beyond its plan.
"That's just not true," he said forcefully. "We can't do that."
He reiterated several times about how the mine would be regulated from local to federal levels.
"What we say we're going to do is going to be very outlined and detailed, which hasn't even been done yet (with the city or town)," he said. "Once that's in writing, they hold us accountable for that."
He also addressed dust, which can be and will be monitored, he said.
"To say the silica is going to travel and kill you, that is just dead false," he said.
Neighbor Sandra Duncan came with worries about water levels, migratory birds and wildlife.
"They seem to have answered all those questions," she said. "I hope they have a good operation. There's no way to know until they're in and operating."
She said she still didn't understand why the company wants to annex.
Anderson said the site is on the city's long-term plan, so the company figured it would begin under the city's jurisdiction from the start.
Town of La Prairie Supervisor Allan Arndt, who attended the meeting as an observer, said the town's zoning ordinances have changed since the last mining operations at the site. The new laws won't allow the proposed mining in the town, he said.
While officials said the operation would be 1,450 feet from the nearest home in the subdivision bounded by Delavan Drive and Beloit Avenue, residents on Read Road brought concerns over how much closer the pit will be to their home.
Dave and Joy Lou live on Read Road, to the east of the proposed project. Officials said the excavation would be 135 to 150 feet from the family's property.
"Our biggest concern right now is our property," Joy said. "We feel like we've been kind of left out" on how close the operation will be.
Anderson said the company sent a mailing to each affected home and knocked on the Lou's door twice. Anderson said officials probably need to meet with the couple and work out their concerns.
"That's being a good operator," he said.
Neighbors Stephen and Carol Garry attended wearing signs stating concerns over the project. After the meeting, they said they went through the proposed larger-scale plan four years ago and still have worries.
"If it would stay just where they're at, like they say, then I have no problem with it," Carol said. "It's when they intend to expand it closer to our area where all the residents live."
They also feel property values will decrease, Stephen said.
"As for myself, I don't want to move into an area where there's a gravel pit," he said.
Bob Consigny, lawyer for MH Materials, told the group he thinks the project will not affect property values.