June 20, 2013 by Barbara With
Ashland County Board passed a strict new Metallic Mining Ordinance today on a vote of 18 to 1. Read a first draft of a new metallic mining zoning ordinance here.
Board member Charles Ortman indicated that the new ordinance was a collaborative effort on the part of the board, the administration, and the community to come together to protect the county. “Chairman Russo, Administrator Beirl, and all the Department heads moved quickly on this issue and are to be commended,” Ortman said. “Chairman Russo recognizing the importance of a mining ordinance and how little time we had in the face of this potential mine, expedited the process.” Administrator Jeff Beirl and Attorney Matt Anich created the ordinance from the multitude of material provided them by Department heads and others.
Iron County is also in the process of drafting and passing their own metallic mining ordinance. On Monday, Tom Bergman presented a draft of their new ordinance to the Iron County Zoning Committee which was developed after extensive research into other towns’ ordinances and consultation with a lawyer.
GTac engineer Tim Myers was in attendance and asked why they were rushing through the process. Bergman explained that the county currently has no metallic mining ordinance, which leaves them unprotected. Myers then dropped the bomb that GTac had already applied for “preapplication notification” that very morning. Even though this filing is not the actual permit, it appears GTac may have made the move to preempt any protections Iron County would put into place.
Hurley attorney Anthony Stella JR addressed the issue of GTac’s filing. In a letter released yesterday, Stella outlined the situation to say that GTac would need “vested rights” before they were able to preempt any zoning that would be put into place after their filing. According to Stella, a business would have to have applied for and received local permits that adhered to current zoning law at the time to get vested rights. Since Iron County has no mining ordinances, GTac technically cannot claim a vested right to mine under current law. Additionally, they have not applied for local permits.
GTac lobbyist Bob Seitz stated in an interview with WPR later that GTac might consider pulling out of Ashland County. “We certainly would want not to be where we’re not welcomed. If one county doesn’t want the tax revenue that comes from mining, then we would certainly talk to them about trying to keep the mining out of that county.”
Considering that the vast majority of public testimony did not want the new mining bill, or a mine in the Penokee Hills, GTAC might be well advised to stop their core drilling and leave the state, as they did in 2012 after AB426 failed to pass into law.
Iron County Zoning Committee Meeting June 18 2013