Lynne deposit topic resurfaces as Oneida County considers review, amendment of mining ordinanceSubmitted: 01/31/2018
Ben Meyer
Ben Meyer
Managing Editor / Senior Reporter

Lynne deposit topic resurfaces as Oneida County considers review, amendment of mining ordinance
RHINELANDER - Rules for metallic mining in Oneida County could change in the next five months.

The county is under a tight deadline to amend its rules under a new state law.

On Wednesday, the Oneida County Planning and Development Committee voted unanimously to spend $7,000 on a lawyer to review the county's mining ordinance. If it wants to change its rules, it faces a July 1 deadline set by a bill Gov. Scott Walker signed last month.

"Let's get on with this process," said Oneida County Supervisor Jack Sorensen at a committee meeting Wednesday.

"We can go through all of those processes. Look how long it took to write the [shoreland zoning] ordinance. If we want to drag this out, we can drag this out and get other counties involved. This is an Oneida County ordinance. I think we just move forward on it," agreed Supervisor Scott Holewinski.

Interest in mining in Oneida County goes back decades.

Noranda Minerals explored a lead, zinc, and copper deposit in the town of Lynne in western Oneida County until 1993. But at least three companies showed interest in mining again within the last decade, starting an intense debate in 2009 over the potential of mining.

"Right now, we're struggling with jobs, with income, with paying taxes, tax revenue. Where's it coming from? These sorts of things can be solved by responsible mining in the state of Wisconsin," Bill Cronk, a geologist with Homeland Uranium, said at the time.

Leaders in the town of Lynne itself remained consistently anti-mine.

"We're quite a poor town, but we really have a respect for our environment and our natural resources," said Dave Schatzley, the then-chair of Lynne.

In 2012, the Oneida County Board voted to end any consideration of a mine in Lynne.

But the state new law signed by Walker in December in Rhinelander has forced Oneida County to reexamine its rules quickly.

The law repeals the so-called state mining moratorium and could make it easier for companies to mine metals in the Northwoods. The law gave counties a six-month window to amend or strengthen their mining ordinances before taking effect. That window closes on July 1. It's unclear exactly how the Oneida County mining ordinance might change after a review.

The Administration Committee and full county board still need to approve spending thousands on a lawyer. The $7,000 estimated cost would go to the Mallery and Zimmerman law firm to analyze the county's current ordinance. It would cost an additional $5,000 to $12,000 for the firm to draft suggested ordinance amendments.

A summary of estimated costs is available by clicking the link below.

Related Weblinks:
Legal Cost Estimate.pdf

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