At the January 13 meeting of the Town Board, two new ordinances were introduced. The first was one that more clearly defined the role of the Planning Commission in light of its present duties and responsibilities and allowed for a Board member to sit on the Commission as a voting member. Town Supervisor Don Trimberger was appointed to a one-year term as a member and will serve as the Commission chairman. The ordinance passed without a second reading. Don has indicated he will abstain from voting in most circumstances unless his vote is required as a tiebreaker.
The second ordinance was a Non-Metallic Mining Ordinance that laid out the rules and requirements of any future mining applications in Spring Prairie. While many in town would like to see an ordinance totally banning any future mines, it simply is not allowable under State law. This new ordinance puts more power in the hands of the Town Board to determine if a proposed mining operation is in the ‘best interests” of the Town. The ‘best interests ‘’ would include health, safety and welfare concerns as well as impact on the environment and wildlife, quality of life in the Town, noise and air pollution, traffic and impact on Town roads, loss of value in neighboring residences and any other possible factor that may have a negative impact on the Town and its residents. Following a first reading, a few minor changes were made in the ordinance and it will have a second reading and possible vote at the February 10 Board meeting.
At the January 16 meeting of the Planning Commission, the issue of the currently proposed gravel pit was taken up. Following an approximately hour-long presentation by representatives of Asphalt Contractors, an open hearing was held wherein residents asked questions and voiced their opinions. Following nearly an hour of comments, both against and for the pit, the open hearing concluded and questioning by the Planning Commission began. After a relatively brief question and answer session with one member recusing himself and Trimberger abstaining, a vote was called and the Commission voted 3 to 2 in favor of approving the rezone for the pit, the conditional use permit and the certified survey map.
The issue of the gravel pit will now be taken up by the Town Board for a vote at its February 10 meeting. Bear in mind that the vote from the Planning Commission is an advisory recommendation and is not binding on the Board. The majority of the Board members have attended all the meetings regarding the proposed gravel pit and have both read all the materials provided and have heard all the arguments on both sides of the issue. Consequently, at the February meeting, there will be neither presentations by Asphalt Contractors nor comments by residents allowed. The issue will be solely discussed by the Town Board members. Following the discussion, a vote will be taken on the issue