Letter writer responds to Johnson

To the Editor:

I want to respond to Eric Johnson’s comments in last week’s Argus.

Johnson has the same problem with facts that Donald Trump does. He just makes things up.

Houston County Protectors has on numerous occasions said that we support the operation of local mines to produce sand and gravel for local use when the mines are operated according to the County Zoning Ordinance. In the last couple years two local mining companies sought Conditional Use Permits for new mines. At both public hearings, members of HCP spoke up in support of granting the CUPs because the applications were complete and the operators agreed to comply with the ordinance requirements.

Early on, five years ago when we started our effort to protect the county from the devastation of frac sand mining, we quickly realized that non-conforming mines could be a backdoor loophole that some unscrupulous landowners could use to start frac sand mines without any regulation. For nearly fifty years, Houston County has never enforced those sections of the ordinance dealing with non-conforming mines. In fact this was pointed out publicly by former Planning Commission Chair  Dan Griffin (underline former) at a public hearing two years ago. That is why we have focused so much effort on trying to get the County Board to finally do its job and enforce the part of the Ordinance dealing with non-conforming mines. They just keep digging in their heels and refuse to.

Johnson took Bruce Kuehmichel’s comments out of context in order to misrepresent his point. Under the new zoning ordinance, rock mines are not in any way limited or restricted the way sand mines are in regard to how far apart they need to be located from each other. The only limit is a maximum 40 acres for a new rock quarry. They can be adjacent to each other, not so with new sand mines.

The issue that Bruce was raising is, does the county want unlimited rock mining in a given area if the rock layer is extensive? The county board needs to look at this.

As I recall, at one time some years ago, Johnson had an application pending in the zoning office for a frac sand mine so he is not exactly an impartial observer.

He does make the point that no local mining companies want to do frac sand mining here. So if the county board would represent the wishes of the vast majority of county resident and ban it, no mine operators or farmers would  suffer, which is what Houston County Protectors has been saying all along.

Ken Tschumper

La Crescent Township