Genoa Township officials are asking State Senator Lana Theis to oppose a bill that would change the approval process for gravel and sand mining.

Those opposed to Senate Bill 431 feel it would effectively remove power from local government to deny permits to land owners for mining operations. Concerns have also been voiced about additional noise, trucking and dust, and the permitted proximity of gravel mines to residential areas.

Supporters, namely the gravel industry, say being able to access gravel used for building roads would aid in a more effective use of the state’s road dollars. Proponents have also argued that a municipality’s position on local control is nothing more than a “not in my backyard” reaction.

Genoa Township’s Board of Trustees recently met and discussed their letter to Senator Theis, which says that the bill unjustifiably takes away local control and asks that Theis vote against it. The letter explains that the municipality recently had to deal with a mining operation without township opinion or approval, noting that the applicant, instead of applying for the operation through the township, went directly to the courts. Township officials feel that action determined that residents had no control or limit over what is taking place in their backyard.

Noise, road destruction, traffic impacts and ground water contamination are said to have not even been considered in the court’s approval, and that proper land restoration was not included in the application. As a result, officials say the municipality was forced into a lawsuit just to have the mining company complete proper restoration of that land.

The township’s opinion in the letter is that, “While big business has a right to address our legislature and ask for new laws, our elected representatives must place environmental protection as primary in every decision.” (DK)