Wisconsin towns sue over mine annexation

Two Trempealeau County, Wisconsin, townships will sue the city of Independence for its annexation of a distant rural frac sand mine, the Winona Post reports.

In a joint meeting on Monday, the Lincoln and Burnside town boards spurned Texas-based frac sand company Superior Silica’s offer of cash and guarantees against damage to nearby wells and residential property values.

Instead, town supervisors voted unanimously to file a lawsuit against the city over its annexation of township land.

This summer, Independence annexed the Guza mine, an existing county-permitted frac sand mine that Texas-based Superior Silica wants to purchase and expand under city zoning. The annexation extended the city’s territory in a narrow strip of land that runs across the towns of Lincoln, Burnside, and Arcadia, before encircling the mine and a proposed rail loading facility in the Town of Arcadia.

Opponents have called it string-and-balloon-style annexation. Other proposed mines in Trempealeau County have sought city annexation to avoid the possibility of county permit denials or restrictive permit conditions.

The Guza mine annexation was the third frac sand-related annexation in the immediate area, according to town board members, and several others have occurred elsewhere in the county. The majority of speakers at a joint meeting last month supported the suit, including third-generation farmers and rural residents concerned about their land values.

Township residents also raised concerns that more annexation could be imminent, and town supervisors said they were taking a stand against similar annexation. Earlier this fall, the townships asked the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA), the state agency that reviews annexations, to provide a formal opinion on the legality of the annexation.

DOA officials wrote that it did not comply with state law because the annexation area was not contiguous with the previous city limits.


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