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Iron County Mining Impact Committee ponders loss of $50,000 donation


Cortney Ofstad/Daily Globe

MEMBERS OF the audience and the Iron County Mining Impact Committee listen to a presentation on funding sources for a mining impact analysis in the board room at the Iron County Courthouse in Hurley on Thursday evening.

HURLEY - The Iron County Mining Impact Committee heard an update on funding sources for a mining impact analysis Thursday evening.

Jason Laumann, of the Northwest Regional Planning Commission, talked about changes in funding after an anonymous donor pulled out.

According to committee chair Leslie Kolesar, the donor withdrew a $50,000 donation to the analysis, believing the county wasn't moving fast enough with the project.

"He wanted to see the county step up and put some skin in the game, but felt that wasn't happening," Laumann said, "however, all is not lost."

In November, Laumann worked with the Iron County Zoning Committee to apply for funding through Wisconsin Coastal Management to update the county's comprehensive plan. On Wednesday, Laumann received word the project is "recommended for funding," and believed the project would take place this year and next year.

"The overall project budget is $100,000. A portion of that is for shoreland zone updates," Laumann said. "A portion is for (Geographic Information System) data development, and the balance would be for updating the comprehensive plan. The county's plan is 10 years old, so it was due for an update. The balance of that money then would support a process where all of the communities would be brought together, a committee would be formed and then the current comprehensive plan would be amended with proposed changes."

However, with the potential mining project near Upson and Mellen in the future, things get "tricky," he said.

"Where that gets tricky is with a potential mining project in the future, you don't have enough information to evaluate issues and opportunities," Laumann said. "That's where the assessment part of this process comes in. That is where all that information that I talked to you about before about collecting would fit into that process. In the absence of having that information, then it's much more broad, much more generalized in nature."

The best thing to help alleviate part of that problem is doing the impact analysis and opportunity assessment first, before the comprehensive plan, according to Laumann said.

It is believed final results for funding through Coastal Management will be announced in the spring, and funding is also available through the statewide mining board's discretionary fund.

Deadlines for the mining board's funding are required by July 31 and a resolution of support would also have to be approved by the full county board.

Kolesar questioned the committee on how it should approach the analysis, whether strictly focusing on Iron County, or doing an analysis on the region.

It was decided to start with just an analysis of the impact on Iron County, and a resolution was approved to bring the analysis recommendation to the zoning committee and full county board for approval.


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