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Sorenson Gets More Open Access To Mining Rule Rewrite

Ken Krall WXPR

The state is requiring counties to have a new set of mining rules in effect by July 1.

As Oneida county is working on getting it's ordinances into alignment, the county board voted to open the process a bit more. A significant deposit of minerals exist under county forest land in the town of Lynne. With the end of the state's mining moratorium law, it's commonly thought mining companies again will be looking to extract minerals there.

But Supervisor Jack Sorenson was taken aback when he and other board members saw 'confidential' on a memo from the county's mining attorney. Sorenson says the public should have every right to know what is going on and proposed a rule giving the Planning and Development committee broader powers to release documents...

"....the change to the mining code, the potential possibilities of mining in Oneida county are going to be an extremely passionate item for large groups of people in the county. It's vitally important from the very start of this process that we operate in an environment so the people know what we are doing. To run this process behind a closed door is the worst idea we could ever have...."

To release documents under former rules, the full county board had to meet and agree to the release. This change would apply to just this rewrite of the rules.

Sorenson's resolution passed 20 to one with only Minocqua Supervisor Billy Fried voting no.

The board did amend the resolution to exempt the written thoughts of an attorney working on mining code from Sorenson's resolution.

The board has retained Milwaukee attorney William Scott to help guide them through the mining rules update.

County board chair David Hintz says Marathon county recently passed their version of the proposed changes and he thinks that version could be used by Oneida county to move the process forward. At least one public hearing will be held before the full board considers the revisions in June.

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