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Letter: New state law would notify property owners about frac mine applications

Frac sand mining is spreading rapidly in western Wisconsin. The impacts are taking many residents by surprise.

Property owners are often unaware of mine prospecting near their property, only learning about a planned mine after the application is approved. State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout is introducing a law to protect us.

Her bill will require those selling property to disclose knowledge of a contract, or an option to contract that allows for frac sand mining on the property.

It would require local government considering a frac-sand mine application to notify the public in advance through newspaper reports as well as written notices to property owners near the proposed mine prior to taking action.

The legislation would also help residents and local governments be better prepared by requiring a license for those who are prospecting for mine sites. It would also require notification before drilling begins.

Frac-sand mining would be listed as a conditional use in areas zoned for agriculture. Requiring a conditional-use permit will give local officials an opportunity to negotiate conditions for operation of a mine.

Noise, dust, blasting and heavy truck traffic are just some ways sand mines impact neighboring residents. Vinehout's proposal would require a 2,500 foot buffer zone to protect neighbors from the impact of mines.

Vinehout's plan is in the best interests of all parties affected by sand mines.

Adjacent property owners will have advance notice and be involved in local decisions. Mine owners will protect themselves by having more opportunity to address community concerns.

Local governments will have a more transparent public process for all stakeholders.