HURLEY — During Thursday’s public hearing regarding a conditional use permit for Gogebic Taconite, local residents spoke about possible lawsuits against Iron County relating to language in the bulk sampling ordinance.
Many residents urged the Iron County Comprehensive Planning/Land and Zoning Committee to “take it slow” and “think things through” regarding issuing G-Tac the permit to begin the bulk sampling process at a proposed iron mine site near Upson.
However, the committee unanimously approved a conditional use permit allowing G-Tac to begin bulk sampling at sites near Upson, contingent on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources approving a stormwater permit regarding the company’s plan.
Three bulk sampling sites are in Iron County in the town of Anderson.
To start the meeting, it was mentioned some of the language in the ordinance was going to be reviewed and changed during the next planned meeting.
Oma resident Dick Thiede said the document was “flawed” and needed to be “redone,” otherwise lawsuits would take place.
According to zoning administrator Tom Bergman, the changes to the language in the ordinance are “very small text changes.
“They will not change the intent of the ordinance at all,” Bergman said.
Leslie Kolesar, chair of the Iron County Mining Impact Committee, also spoke about the ordinance and said attorney Chris Jaekels, who helped write the ordinance, said it would stand up in court.
“It saddens me that residents of other communities would threaten lawsuits over cash-strapped Iron County,” Kolesar said. “It saddens me further that local residents would encourage these lawsuits.”
The conditional use permit was granted to G-Tac by a unanimous vote.
A public hearing regarding the ordinance text changes is scheduled for Feb. 18 at 3 p.m. at the Iron County Courthouse in Hurley.
The committee approved 11 conditions for G-Tac to follow with the conditional use permit and outlined them during the hearing.
Conditions include identifying all property owners near bulk sampling sites, compensation for local law enforcement or use of own security and the applicant must obtain all necessary state and federal permits before bulk sampling can begin.
G-Tac must also submit plans for noise, dust, fumes, light and visual impacts and have emergency plans for spills, evacuations, explosions, fires and security.
The committee also requested a list of techniques that will be used for bulk sampling, and no heavy equipment, broadcast lighting or blasting can take place between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. without permission from zoning staff.
G-Tac was also told if blasting is required, the company needs to notify the Iron County Sheriff’s Department, zoning department and emergency management 48 hours in advance and meet all the requirements of the town of Anderson blasting ordinance.
The company was asked if it would blast to collect samples. G-Tac said blasting is a secondary option and they do not see blasting happening.
The town of Anderson also approved the conditions during a board meeting before the public hearing.