November mining referendum appears likely in Oneida Co. as mining ordinance clears committeeSubmitted: 06/13/2018
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter

November mining referendum appears likely in Oneida Co. as mining ordinance clears committee
RHINELANDER - In November, people in Oneida County will likely vote on whether they support mining the mineral deposit in the town of Lynne.

Ore valued at millions of dollars lies below county forest land there, and mining companies have been interested in the zinc, lead, copper, and silver for decades.

On Wednesday, the county's Planning and Development Committee unanimously supported a plan to put an advisory referendum on mining on the ballot for the November general election.

"The taxpayers own that property. All of you out there, all of us sitting here, we own the county forest lands," said supervisor Ted Cushing, a member of the committee. "The only way to do this properly is to poll everybody."

The committee also approved a new mining ordinance as part of its zoning code. A new state law puts a July 1 deadline on mining ordinance changes.

The approved ordinance includes few major changes fromĀ the one the public commented on last week.

Mining permits will have to be approved by a majority of the county board. A plan to require a two-thirds majority on the votes was scrapped. Mining opponents in attendance audibly protested when the change was made.

Both the new mining ordinance and the referendum proposal will go before the full county board next Tuesday.

"It's right to let the public vote on this issue and vote on the town of Lynne issue, whether we should proceed after due diligence," said county board chair Dave Hintz. "The day when politicians think they're smarter than their electorate, I think we really have a problem."

Mining opponents seemed to like the referendum idea, too.

"Hopefully, we can come up with a once-and-for-all solution. If the [referendum] resolution can help us get there, I think, from my perspective, I would certainly support it," said Jeff Brown, who lives in the town of Lynne.

If approved, the referendum on the November ballot will read, "After performing their due diligence, should Oneida County allow leasing County owned lands in the Town of Lynne for the purpose of metallic mineral exploration, prospecting, bulk sampling and mining?"

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