Dozens of individuals have packed the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure committee week after week to oppose Senate Bill 431. They’ll have another chance to have their voices heard when the committee meets again Wednesday, February 19 at 12:30 pm to continue testimony. SB 431 seeks to take away the already very limited ability local government has to regulate sand and gravel mining locations and operations. The legislation eliminates local zoning authority and threatens to expose residents to extreme noise, extended hours of operations, and has no real consideration as to mining impacts on nearby residents, schools, businesses, hospitals or others.
Under the legislation, a mining company can’t be denied a permit if the company can show they’ll make a profit and that the operation does not impose unnecessary risk to public health, safety or welfare that cannot be avoided. SB 431 continues the “no very serious consequence” standard, but creates a new and impractical definition providing an almost fail-safe for applicants. The legislation, if enacted, would allow:
- A mining application to be deemed complete in 30 days unless the local unit of government notifies the applicant of specific application deficiencies.
- Setbacks of only 200 feet and a mere 300 feet from occupied residential.
- Extended periodic noise levels that exceed 100 decibels.
- No local (government nor school) input on proposed haul routes.
- No consideration of how many other mining operations already exist in a community.
- Truck loading from 5:00 AM to 7:00 PM, Monday – Saturday, so trucks would be lining up much earlier to be ready for the 5:00 AM start time. Those hours could be extended if required per a contract that the local unit of government has no input on.
Another approach has been offered, House Bill 5305 looks to modify current law, but allows local government to still be involved and protect the health, safety and welfare of its residents when appropriate.
Proponents of SB 431 have stated it restores balance and structure to the local zoning process, and that local control is maintained. We wholeheartedly disagree! This legislation hides behind property rights and NIMBY (not in my backyard) claims when in reality it puts profits over people and protects no one except the aggregate industry.
Articles regarding SB 431 can found at:
Contact the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure committee members and urge them to OPPOSE Senate Bill 431.
Jennifer Rigterink is a legislative associate for the League handling economic development, land use and municipal services issues. She can be reached at [email protected] or 517-908-0305.