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home : news : local   January 24, 2015

6/10/2014 6:01:00 AM
La Salle County ready to reopen for sand mining

Kevin Caufield
Staff Writer

OTTAWA — La Salle County could be back open for new frac sand mining business next month.

County board members Monday during their regular meeting voted unanimously to place the updated comprehensive development plan on file for 30 days for public inspection. The board will move to formally adopt the plan — and discuss it — at its next meeting at 1 p.m. July 10 at Knights of Columbus in Ottawa.

If passed, the county’s moratorium on allowing new special use permits for all mining would be lifted.

La Salle County is home to extremely high-grade silica sandstone used in the fracking mining process for oil and natural gas. The sand has become highly valuable and is drawing many mining companies here to buy unincorporated farm ground for mining purposes.

However, the county put a moratorium in place to halt new mine developments until the comprehensive development plan was updated.

La Salle County zoning director Mike Harsted said he has no knowledge of any silica sand companies waiting to obtain a permit as a result of the moratorium.

The updated development plan addresses development issues and serves as a guide for La Salle County Zoning Board of Appeals members to follow when making recommendations on land use issues to the county board.

Among the goals listed in the updated plan is the continued protection of good farmland and a requirement that “buffer zones” be created between residential properties and new mining developments.

The plan also calls for the creation of a water resource commission to address stormwater management, preventing residential sprawl by directing and containing such growth within areas where public utilities are available, and developing multi-modal transportation studies.

In other business:

- Board members placed on file a number of zoning text amendments such as defining a “commercial shooting range,” “marijuana cultivation facility,” “medical cannabis dispensing organization” and “dispensing organization” as outlined in state law. Discussion on the amendments is expected to take place before a vote during the July board meeting.

- Board members approved spending $6,500 to participate in an opportunities feasibility study grant that would look at the possibility of creating a multi-modal transportation facility/plan for hauling frac sand, grain, aggregate and other goods produced in La Salle County. The cities of Streator, Peru, Spring Valley, Livingston County and La Salle County economic development and the Streator Chamber of Commerce. The study would be completed in 2016.

- Board members approved a flood damage prevention ordinance meant to prevent unwise developments and lessen the burden on taxpayers for flood control and repairs. The ordinance sets a number of guidelines for current and existing developed properties that lie within floodplains. Failure to comply with the ordinance can result in a fine between $50 and $750 for the offending property owner if a situation is not remedied within 10 days of notice.

- Board members approved a contract with Computer Information Concepts, Inc. for the installation of fund accounting software in the amount of $162,470.

- Board members approved a contract with Cryer & Olsen Mechanical, Inc. to replace the boiler in the downtown courthouse boiler in the amount of $328,900.

- Board members approved the following re-appointments: Melva Allender, Dr. Mark Benavides, DDS, and Louis Weber, Jr. to La Salle County Health Department board; Michael Pfau, Gerald Nelson and Steven Kellogg as Serena Sanitary District trustees; and James Bristol, Scott Hauser and Jonathan Walker as Sheridan Sanitary District trustees.

Kevin Caufield can be reached at (815) 220-6932 or

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