By Emily Bialkowski
Frac sand mining and the controversial topics that surround their development will not go away any time soon.
The Houston County Board continues to research this industrial revolution of sorts, and adopted an amendment to the frac sand moratorium July 23 that addresses what could be an onslaught of proposals.
Environmental Services Director Rick Frank explained that in 1973 the county asked all property owners with any type of mining situation to register their quarry. One-hundred-fifty of those exist on the books today, and four have dropped proposals for new mining endeavors on the zoning desk.
“Some of them are 40 acres and some go up to 80 or more acres,” Frank said.
To circumvent any of those existing quarries from switching over to frac sand mining before the county creates legislation to regulate it, Frank, under the advice of the county’s attorney, proposed the amendment.
The county does have four proposals sitting in the zoning office requesting re-use of old quarries.
The amendment, in part, reads:
“Whereas, On March 20, 2012 by Resolution 12-11, the county board adopted a moratorium to be able to fully study and evaluate the effects of silica sand mining operations and related processing and transportation facilities on the public health, safety and general welfare.
“Whereas, the moratorium adopted by Resolution 12-11 applied to “the issuance of any conditional use permit for new silica sand mining or accessory uses…
“Now therefore, may it be resolved that the moratorium on silica sand operations is amended to apply to: 1) the issuance of any conditional use permit for new silica sand mining or accessory use 2) the conversion of existing non-silica sand mining operations into silica sand mining operations; and 3) all processing of sand material that has not been established and on-going as of the date hereof.”
Land owners will have the ability to continue their operations as before but cannot engage in a new frac sand endeavor.
“I talked with our attorney and he suggested that we don’t want frac sand running under the radar of the existing moratorium,” Frank said. “We need to put a moratorium on them, too, until the county has enough time to develop an ordinance to address these mining operations.”
The amendment passed unanimously with next to no comment.
“It’s a good thing,” Commissioner Teresa Walter said.
Contact Emily Bialkowski at [email protected]