The Farmington Town Board held a special meeting Aug. 12 to respond to concerns voiced at the recent mining ordinance public hearing. Six major concerns were noted and addressed:
The first concern surrounded issues already covered in the ordinance about mining license transference. These regulations can be found in Section 4 of the ordinance.
Concerns were raised about how water testing will be conducted and who will conduct such tests. The Board decided to add clarification to the ordinance so that all readings from water tests will be sent to the town’s hydrologists. The town’s hydrologist will subsequently create a report from the findings.
Another clarification under the water testing section of the ordinance concerned disposing of hazardous waste. The ordinance states, “The Operator shall not dispose of waste materials containing any hazardous chemicals in toxic amounts.” The Board’s proposed alteration would be to simplify this regulation to not permit dumping any sort of materials on-site or in the town unless approved by the Board.
Decibel rating of the site
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s recommended decibel rating for an eight-hour per day worksite is 90 dBA. The ordinance requires that the mining site should not exceed 95 dB.
After some deliberation, the Board changed the ordinance so that the maximum noise from the site wouldn’t exceed 90 dB, and noise studies may be implemented.
There were concerns from the Board about responding to unreasonable noise complaints, as it may set a precedent for many unresolvable noise complaints in the future. The consensus was that noise is an inevitable part of life, and some complaints will simply not be able to be resolved.
Penalties and fines
Another change to the ordinance was an increase in potential fines issued to violators of procedures. In the ordinance, the range for fines was “not less than $500.00 per violation nor more than $2500.00 per violation.” The change would be to raise the maximum fine amount to $250,000 instead of 2,500. The increased maximum fine amount would give the Town Board freedom to penalize violators as they see fit.
Chairman Dennis Cottor discussed the impact the mine has on the town, noting that the mining operation cannot be brought to a halt. He considered the negative impact the mine may have on the town, but also the impact the mine has had on Farmington’s financial stability.
After blasting in the mine, the seismic rating of each blast should be recorded and available to the public.
The Board decided to add additional wording to explain that after blasting, the seismic results should be given to the Town Board, and in turn, posted to the town website. That way, any consistent complaints about blasting that come up can be traced back to the town records.
The Board agreed that a table of contents or an index should be added for easy accessibility.
Cottor also noted that after the current mining operation wraps up; there could be a possibility of reworking zoning regulations to prevent other mining operations in the future.
The Town Board decided to take all these ordinance changes to their lawyer the following morning for recommendations and approval. Clerk/Treasurer Debbie Swanson said Saturday those changes have been made and the Board will meet 7 a.m., Aug. 19 to adopt the ordinance.