A proposed Madison city, Wisconsin, zoning code change would allow quarries to formally operate in the city and permit operators to expand mining into adjacent properties.
Though the current zoning code does not allow mining, four identified rock quarries are operating in the city because they were running legally before being annexed.
When a property is annexed, it keeps its legal entitlements, says John Strange, assistant city attorney. These mines can continue operating as “nonconforming uses” until the mine’s resources are exhausted — between 20 and 30 years — or the operator changes the mine’s use, reports the Cap Times.
“The idea was to try to come up with an ordinance that would allow them to formally and legally mine each quarry in the city,” Strange said.
Under the proposed ordinance, mining operators could apply to rezone their property to create a new special zoning district called the Nonmetallic Mineral Extraction District. Strange noted that the option is voluntary, and mining operators could continue to operate as they have been.
“If the council approved that rezoning, that would be the area zoned for mining,” Strange said. “Within that area everything would be a permitted area except for blasting, which would be a conditional use.”
Operators would have to renew their permit to blast every five years, Strange said.
Close proximity to the city can be a benefit especially for road projects and recycling services, Strange said. However, these quarries are located near residential areas and neighbors have had concerns regarding blasting.