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Glenwood City Council tentatively approves frac sand mine agreement

Representatives (from left) Joe McKie and R.J. Sikes of Texas-based Vista Sand, attorney, Anders Helquist and land owner Scott Teigen gained tentative approval from the Glenwood City Council on Monday, Feb. 24, to operate a frac sand mine in Glenwood City. (Photo by Tom Lindfors)1 / 2
Members of the Glenwood City Council (left) negotiate terms for a new frac sand mine with representatives of Texas-based Vista Sand (right) on Monday, Feb. 24. (Photo by Tom Lindfors)2 / 2

With council members Crystal Booth and Ben DeGross objecting, the Glenwood City Council, meeting as a committee Monday night, concluded more than 18 months of controversy by recommending that the council approve a tentative agreement with Texas-based Vista Sand to operate a frac sand mine within city limits less than a half mile from the public school.

“I am happy. It’s been a long process. It’s time to move on,” Mayor John Larson said following the vote.

“It’s been a marathon,” Joe McKie of Vista agreed.

The straw poll ended a nearly two-hour meeting of which half took place behind closed doors. Negotiations over the final contract have been ongoing steadily since the results of a recall election last December gave the board a mandate to work with Vista.

Approval of the final document scheduled for the next regular council meeting March 10, is contingent upon language yet to be crafted to address several outstanding issues including additional property values to be guaranteed and excluded, a test well configuration that adjusts to any water quality threats, and a definition of reasonable engineering costs. The council agreed to an initial 20-year term to be automatically renewed for an additional 10 years if Vista’s permits are in order. Vista agreed to a 3-cent per ton royalty increase every five years. The board reserved the right to review the agreement being worked out independently between Vista and the school district.

Larson confirmed the council has two major issues yet to address with regard to the project. Members will have to decide whether to annex the property targeted by Vista for the mine. They will also have to decide whether they want to be responsible for negotiating the reclamation terms of the project or defer that responsibility to the county and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Following the vote, Scott Teigen, owner of the land Vista intends to purchase, said, “This mine can be done right, and that’s the way it should be done. It’s a step closer, but it’s just a recommendation.”