Republican Party of Dane County, Friends of Patrick Miles
Dane County Towns Association president Jerry Derr (left) opposes an ordinance proposed by Supv. Patrick Miles (right) to require approval for mines.
When it comes to mines, Jerry Derr wishes Dane County would leave it to the towns.
"We don't need them to regulate mineral extraction sites," says Derr, Bristol town chair and board president of the Dane County Towns Association. "We already have that authority."
In the late 1960s, the county exempted roughly 100 properties from new mine and quarry permitting rules, granting what is called a non-conforming use designation.
But an ordinance introduced last month aims to remove that designation from 34 of these properties, spread across Dane County and selected because owners haven't informed the county of an intention to mine.
If passed, the ordinance would require that property owners have county approval before opening a non-metallic mine.
Derr says the ordinance is essentially a moratorium on mining these sites.
"Do you think they will actually permit a mine on any of these sites if this is approved?" he asks.
But Dane County Supv. Patrick Miles, the ordinance’s chief sponsor, says the 34 property sites selected would present quality-of-life issues for nearby residents if they became mining operations.
Recently a quarry in the town of Dunn began blasting without any county input or public notice.
The outcry from residents there prompted Miles to take action late last year, but an attempt in February to pass a very similar ordinance failed when the towns rejected it 20 to 14. Once the county board approves a zoning ordinance, a majority of towns needs to approve it before it takes effect.
Miles has yet to pass on the ordinance to the county's planning and zoning committee. Rather, he has asked planning and zoning staff to call the owners of each of the 34 non-conforming sites to ask that they surrender their non-conforming designation.
Derr is amenable to this.
"Leave it to property owners to get rid of that designation," he says. "I'm okay with that, but I want them to say it, not the county."