There will be no frac sand mining in Allamakee County.
The county passed an 18-month moratorium Monday morning.
Frac sand is becoming a hot commodity because it’s being widely used in a process called hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” to extract natural gas in other parts of the country.
In Allamakee County, a mining company wanted to set up shop on a farm about five miles south of New Albin.
Some people in the area are concerned about potential health problems, property values, local tourism and more.
Read the moratorium below. Here is the link: http://www.allamakeecountyprotectors.com/moratorium-document
Allamakee County Moratorium – 18 months
ALLAMAKEE COUNTY ORDINANCE NO. _________________
AN ORDINANCE IMPOSING A TEMPORARY MORATORIUM ON THE SUBMISSION, ACCEPTANCE, PROCESSING, AND APPROVAL OF ANY APPLICATION FOR A CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT OR SITE PLAN APPROVAL FOR NEW FRAC SAND EXTRACTION PITS, OR FOR THE WASHING, REFINING, PROCESSING, STORING, OR STOCKPILING OF FRAC SAND; DIRECTING THE PROMPT INVESTIGATION OF THE COUNTY’S REGULATORY AUTHORITY OVER FRAC SAND EXTRACTION PITS AND FRAC SAND PROCESSING OPERATIONS; AND DECLARING THE INTENTION OF THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS TO CONSIDER THE ADOPTION OF APPROPRIATE ZONING REGULATIONS WITH RESPECT TO FRAC SAND EXTRACTION PITS AND FRAC SAND PROCESSING OPERATIONS.
PREAMBLE AND FINDINGS
WHEREAS, new technologies for mining petroleum and natural gas deposits have resulted in a rapid growth in demand for specialized sand used in hydraulic fracturing (“frac sand”) which can be obtained by mining in the St. Peter and Jordan sandstone layers where they lie near the surface in Allamakee County. Frac sand mining in nearby counties, including those located in Minnesota and Wisconsin, has been attended by problems and concerns affecting the public health, safety, and welfare of the residents of those areas. The new demand for frac sand mining operations has the potential to cause similar problems in Allamakee County unless potential problems and concerns are proactively addressed by the County; and
WHEREAS, the Board finds that Allamakee County will inevitably be subjected to similar pressure to open new extraction pits for the mining of frac sand, but that the Allamakee County Comprehensive Plan does not adequately address mining, transportation, processing, storage, and stockpiling of frac sand, and a number of attendant concerns; and
WHEREAS, the Board finds that St. Peter and Jordan Sandstone exposures can be found in the valley of the Upper Iowa River and other valleys throughout the County, and that St. Peter and Jordan formations can be found underlying many hills and bluff-tops associated with such valleys; and
WHEREAS, the Board finds that Allamakee County’s valleys, hills and bluff-tops are a valuable scenic resource important to the welfare of the County and important to its tourism industry. The Boards finds that rapid development of sandstone mining with inadequate controls over the location and size of the mining operations, and with inadequate guarantee for post-mining restoration, threatens to permanently impoverish the Allamakee landscape; and
WHEREAS, the Board further finds the opening of new frac sand mining operations in Allamakee County, under the current zoning regulations, could decrease the values of nearby properties; and
WHEREAS, the Board finds that frac sand mining and processing may generate heavy truck traffic, which in turn may cause rapid deterioration of County roads and bridges, causing a burden on Allamakee County taxpayers, and may generate dust and noise which may be deemed nuisances and pose potential health and safety threats; and
WHEREAS, the Board finds that heavy truck traffic between frac sand mining sites and frac sand storage, processing and shipping points may expose neighboring landowners and the traveling public to increased risk of accident where the roads are not designed for heavy truck traffic, lack needed turn lanes, and where dust generated by trucks on gravel roads may interfere with vision; and
WHEREAS, the Board finds that concerns have been raised about the potential health risks of silica dust generated by the mining, transportation, processing, and storage of frac sand which should be studied and addressed prior to the issuance of new permits allowing frac sand mining in Allamakee County; and
WHEREAS, the Board finds that the St. Peter and Jordan sandstone formations are aquifers providing drinking water to residents of Allamakee County, that protection of the quality of those aquifers is of crucial importance to the County, and that the potential impact of frac sand mining and processing on the integrity of those aquifers requires study; and
WHEREAS, the Board finds that frac sand mining operations may threaten sites of archaeological significance, including but not limited to Indian burial grounds on bluffs adjoining river valleys; and
WHEREAS, the Board finds that a temporary emergency exists as a result of the potential problems posed by this new land use issue; and
WHEREAS, the Board finds that a moratorium on the consideration and issuance of conditional use permits for new frac sand extraction permits and frac sand processing operations until July 1, 2014 would preserve the status quo for a reasonable time while the County studies these potential problems and adopts any appropriate amendments to the Allamakee County Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance. The imposition of a temporary moratorium on new frac sand development while the comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance are amended will help to accomplish the purpose of the expected new zoning regulations by giving them the broadest possible applicability and preventing interim development that is inconsistent with the new regulations.
WHEREAS, proprietors of existing extraction pits for the production of limestone and dolomite and for the production of deposits of construction sand will not be prejudiced by the imposition of a moratorium concerning frac sand.
THEREFORE, THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS OF ALLAMAKEE COUNTY, IOWA, ORDAINS:
1.) Definitions: The following definitions shall apply for purposes of this ordinance:
a.) “Industrial sand” or “frac sand” shall mean high purity silica sand which, when processed, is suitable for use as a proppant in the enhancement of oil and gas wells by means of injection fracturing. All sand mined from the St. Peter and Jordan sandstone formations shall be included within this definition.
b.) “Construction sand” shall mean sand that is predominantly produced and used for local construction purposes, such as asphalt or concrete. All existing sand pits containing alluvial sand shall be included within this definition.
2.) Imposition of Temporary Moratorium on Applications for Permits and
Licenses Related to Frac Sand Related Extraction Pits.
Upon the adoption of this Ordinance, a temporary moratorium ending July 1, 2014 is imposed upon the consideration or approval of all applications for conditional use permits required by Section 302.6 and 305.1 of the Zoning Ordinance for (1) new extraction pits for frac sand or materials overlying frac sand; and (2) new conditional use permits for the washing, refining, processing, storing, or stockpiling of frac sand. This moratorium also temporarily prohibits new conditional use permits or site plan approvals required by Section 302.5 of the Zoning Ordinance for removal of frac sand or materials overlying frac sand from the Bluffland Impact Zone or the Bluffland Protection District. During the moratorium period, the Allamakee County Zoning Administrator, Allamakee County Board of Adjustment, and Allamakee County Planning and Zoning Commission are directed to refuse to accept for filing, and/or review, any applications for conditional use permits or site plan approvals for:
new extraction pits containing frac sand, and
sites or facilities designed for the washing, refining, processing, storing, or stockpiling of frac sand.
The burden of proving that the above applications do not involve frac sand production or processing shall fall upon the applicant for any such permits or approvals.
3.) Study and Adoption of Proposed Amendments and Regulations. Before the expiration of the moratorium imposed by this Ordinance, the Allamakee County Zoning Administrator and Allamakee County Planning and Zoning Commission, working with the Allamakee County Attorney, shall investigate, hold hearings, and prepare appropriate recommendations for amendments to the Allamakee County Comprehensive Plan to address issues related to frac sand mining and processing.
4.) The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors finds, determines, and declares that passage of this Moratorium Ordinance is necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, and safety in order to prevent the consideration of applications and issuance of conditional use permits for frac sand mining operations before Allamakee County has had a reasonable opportunity to study frac sand issues and to amend its comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance. Failure to immediately impose the moratorium provided for in this Ordinance will potentially allow such applicants to obtain permits and acquire certain rights with respect to frac sand mines before Allamakee County has had a reasonable opportunity to consider appropriate amendments thereto. The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors further determines that the adoption of this Ordinance is in the best interest of the citizens of Allamakee County.
5.) The Allamakee County Board of Supervisors hereby finds, determines and declares that it has the power to adopt this Ordinance pursuant to: Iowa Code Chapter 331, Section 501.1 of the Allamakee County Zoning Ordinance, and pursuant to the authority found in the Iowa Supreme Court case of Geisler v. City Council Cedar Falls, 769 N.W.2d 162 (Iowa 2009) .
6.) The opening of a new extraction pit for the extraction of frac sand, or the opening of a new facility for the processing or stockpiling of frac sand begun in violation of this Moratorium shall be deemed a violation of the Allamakee County Zoning Ordinance and shall be punishable under the provisions described in Chapter 6 of that ordinance. As provided in Section 601 of the Allamakee Zoning Ordinance, each day of such continued violation shall constitute a separate offense.
8. Repealer. All Ordinances or parts of Ordinances in conflict with this Zoning Ordinance Amendment or inconsistent with the provisions of this Ordinance Amendment, are hereby temporarily repealed to the time and extent necessary to give this temporary Moratorium Ordinance full force and effect.
9. Effective date. This Ordinance shall become effective immediately after its final passage, approval, and publication by law, and shall remain in effect until July 1, 2014, unless repealed prior to that date.
PASSED BY THE BOARD OF SUPERVISORS ON THE _________ day of ___________, 2013.
Larry Shellhammer, Chairperson, Allamakee County Board of Supervisors