From: Joseph Mlinar
Buffalo County Defender
You may have recently read various letters to the editor, or articles in the local papers reporting on and asking questions about the development of industrial sand mining, or frac-sand mining. You may have been the recipient recently of some informative flyers from a group of concerned citizens, the Buffalo County Defenders (of whom I am proud to call myself a member), about the ongoing developments with industrial sand mining and zoning regulations and County ordinances. You may have received a newsletter from fellow citizens of your township, as well as a grassroots survey of residents and landowners, to gauge public opinion about industrial sand mining in your own neighbor’s backyard, or yours! You may be well informed about this issue, or you may barely have the time out of your day to give it much thought, much less to take some basic actions. These efforts to inform the public are small, individual or group efforts to raise awareness and, most importantly, to inspire all of us concerned enough to take action, even if it’s to start asking questions, and to contact your local township/county board representatives.
There is a paradigm shift in this that has to happen. And it has to come from citizens who are affected, who care, who have concerns and a voice, who want to be a part of the public dialogue, or to keep the land they live, work, learn, and earn from, as it is for their children. The people, residents, land-owners all, need to get out and attend these non-metallic mining hearings on the applications being sought in their town and county! The Town meetings and the Land Resources (formerly Zoning) Committee meetings are one opportunity for the public to show a force and to have a voice. These are not the only opportunities, or the most immediate. The dialogue can begin much closer to home. These public mailers and surveys have given us a voice. The attendance by highly informed citizens at these Zoning Committee, Board of Adjustment, and Comprehensive Planning meetings have laid the foundation for broader public participation. We all have a right and an “IN,” to be heard and to ask the necessary questions. Will you take the next step and attend a public meeting, or respond to your local representatives? Otherwise, the potential for official precedent and mere inertia is too high and will carry the day. The potential for local officials and representatives to let the recently developed ordinances, policies and procedures lead them to a foregone conclusion is too great. Any policy, when implemented, needs to be utilized critically, and with a deep consideration of the circumstances. But it’s the public that has the obligation to demand such accountability.