A mining company, A.F. Gelhar, wishes to convert 160 acres of farmland in the Town of Union into a silica sand mine.
Few are aware that both the Town of Union and Waupaca County have in place thoughtful comprehensive plans that address industrial development as well as any other types of development.
In 2003, in answer to the state of Wisconsin Comprehensive Planning Law, Waupaca County and its cities, towns and villages were given the mission to develop Comprehensive plans.
The County Supervisors delegated the responsibility to a Core Planning Committee where I served as a proud member.
Numerous public informational meetings and county-wide public surveys allowed us to narrow down the vision and future goals for Waupaca County.
In 2007, the Zoning and Land Use Planning Committee unanimously endorsed the plan that will see us through 2030.
The County plan is available on the County website and at every public library in the county. Its subtitle is “Where Business and Recreation Come Together.”
In its introduction, the plan acknowledges that “for nearly four years, volunteers from 33 of Waupaca County’s 34 local units of government have worked to develop their own long-range, comprehensive visions for the futures of their communities”.
The plan summary states that “every county property owner was given the opportunity to respond,” and respond they did:
Their top votes went to protecting lakes, streams, wetlands, and groundwater (97%), protecting natural resources (96%), and protecting wild habitat (91%).
I urge you all to read for yourself this important document aiming to guide our elected officials in their decision-making.
No one can argue that the plan provides fodder for all sides and is vague in its instructions.
If the plan does make allowance for both industrial development AND preservation of our natural resources and rural character, it does so WITH specific preferred land use maps.
Already, “business and industrial preferred land use classifications include over 6,000 acres of Waupaca County, which is nearly seven times the projected demand.”
On the other hand, the Town of Union 160-acre area to be converted as a sand mine is characterized as Agriculture Enterprise in the Plan, a category created with the express goal “to prevent conversion of Land identified as a valuable agricultural resource to uses that are not consistent with agriculture”.
As Core planning Committee members, we bought into the process because over and over we were re-assured that our contribution mattered. Really?
No one in the Town of Union has spoken in favor of the mine.
We proclaim we are a democracy. Really?
In conclusion, I simply ask that our zoning Commission on Nov. 1 ponder at length the potential adverse impacts of giving a conditional use permit to a mine in the Town of Union as our locally grown Comprehensive Plan argues that “the siting and construction of new developments shall be consistent with the purpose, intent, preferred use, and preferred density established in the applicable preferred land use classification”.