A letter to residents on state highways.

Marcie and I wrote a letter that we sent to all 350 people who own property on the three state highways in the count.  Here’s what we said.  By the way, there’s a link to the letter that you can download, print and share at the bottom of this post.

The Letter

Hello,

You’re receiving this mailing because you, like us, own property on one of the three state highways here in Buffalo County.  So you, like us, are going to feel the tremendous impact of truck-traffic generated by a number of industrial-volume “frac sand” mines that are going to open up in the next 6 to 18 months.

As you can see from the little picture on the outside of this mailing, trucks from these mines are going to funnel on to the roads that run in front of our doors.  A LOT of trucks.  How many?  Nobody knows, because the industrial frac sand miners are working to get their permits right now, they’ll start operating in a few months.

But its safe to say that the number will be in the hundreds per day, since EACH approved mine is looking to put at least 95 truck-loads (190 trips) a day on those roads.  Depending on how far “downstream” you are, you could see the combined trucks from multiple mines.

We want to shine some light on this, get our County officials to take our concerns into consideration, and change the rules so that new applicants for these mining sites will have to structure their applications as the industrial operations they are.

There ARE things you can do, it’s not too late.  There ARE solutions to this, if we work together as a community to find them.

Yes, we think the miners need to be included in this conversation; they’re our neighbors after all.  And we agree that people can do what they want on their own land.  But when a rush into industrial mining impacts the rest of us, we need to be heard as well.

What will happen to the value of OUR property when we have hundreds of heavy sand trucks rolling by 24×7, seven days a week? What’s going to happen to the deer-hunting that so many of us enjoy when our roads are filled with trucks 52 weeks a year?  What are our towns, villages, school children and businesses going to face with trucks running by every few minutes?  Recent applications HAVE ALREADY BEEN APPROVED with that schedule.

We hope you will take a moment to read the rest of the material in this letter.  And that you will act.  Showing up at the meetings this week (if this letter gets to you in time) would help a lot.  But simply phoning your representatives and asking some questions would send a clear signal that there’s more work to be done.

Thanks,

Marcie and Mikey O’Connor

The Questions

Why do you call these “industrial” mines?  Aren’t these just like the gravel and sand mines that we’ve had for years?

These mines are much higher-volume operations.  They produce 100 trucks a day of sand, all year round – “normal” mines only get used part of the year and don’t generate anywhere near the truck traffic.  Some of these proposed mines also include processing plants on the scale of a grain elevator or a cement plant.

They are also big businesses.  Landowners will be taking in about $500,000 a year for their sand (assuming a low-end price of $1/ton – we’ve heard of prices as high as $3/ton).  And at the processing plants that number is on the order of $25 million a year (assuming a net price of $50/ton – more about this arithmetic on www.FracSandFrisbee.com).

That’s why we think they should be moved from the “agricultural” part of the zoning law, to the “industrial” part.

Who are you and why do you care?

Marcie is a naturalist who is restoring our 420 acre farm on 88 back to the habitat that was here before it was homesteaded.  She’s given several talks at Wings Over Alma, so some of you may remember her from there.  More about that at her blog – www.APrairieHaven.com .

Mikey is a retired entrepreneur who has started and sold several Internet businesses.  He is now working on the stability and security of the Internet as a volunteer at ICANN.  More about Mikey at www.Haven2.com .

We’re really worried that the huge increase in truck traffic will change the very nature of this area.  We love the natural beauty, the quiet, our friends and the community of this place.  We’re concerned that all of those things will disappear as the county changes from “God’s country” to “mining country.”

I like (or hate) what you’re saying.  How can I reach you?

Regular mail and email are the best way to reach us.  Our regular mail address is on this flyer, our email address is [email protected] .  We’re also in the phone book here, but we often go for days before we see that there’s a message.  If you really want to call, call Mikey’s cell phone number – 651-647-6109.  That one’s on all the time.

By the way, if you hate what we’re saying, that’s fine.  We’d still love to talk to you.  We’re convinced there’s a way to figure this out if we can talk it through.  Very hopeful folks, that’s us.

 

Traffic letter – distribution

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