City council rejects frac sand transfer facility in Eau Claire - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

City council rejects frac sand transfer facility in Eau Claire

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - Plans to build a frac sand transfer facility in Eau Claire, have been shut down, at least for now. Tuesday, the city council rejected a developer's agreement from Muskie Proppant on a 9 to 1 vote.

The company had wanted to build a rail spur on the city's north side.  The spur would've been used to transfer frac sand. Representatives from Muskie Proppant told the city council there would be no mining or processing at the site, and that all of the washing and drying would happen in Pierce County, where the sand would have come from.

This was a project that, at one time, the council seemed to favor. Just two weeks ago, most of the city council was prepared to vote in favor of the project but due to language in the resolution, a two-thirds vote was needed to pass it.  Because one council member was not in attendance, that wasn't possible.

At Monday night's hearing it was pretty clear where the public stood. In the time WQOW News 18 was there, not one person spoke in favor of having the sand transfer facility in Eau Claire. Tuesday, some city council members said, that influenced the way they voted. 

City council member Andrew Werthmann says, "It took a year for the neighborhood to realize, fully, what was going on.  Red flags were not raised, because purposely, they were kept down."

"We believe the process has not been appropriate process, we believe it has been a flawed process," says Muskie Proppant LLC attorney, Brian Nodolf.  

Tuesday, Muskie Proppant submitted a request that city council table the development agreement for two weeks. They wanted to take the time to speak with neighbors about some of the concerns expressed at Monday's public hearing. That request was denied.

Nodolf says,"It was a voluntary mechanism, we said, look, we're happy to table the development agreement issue for two weeks, speak to the neighbors. If there are additional issues, that people believe need to be addressed, we'll address them, and we'll be happy to put them in writing for the city."

Almost a year ago, the Eau Claire Plan Commission approved a conditional use permit submitted by Muskie Proppant. Nodolf say,"What we saw tonight, was supposed to be a discussion about the approval of a development agreement for the extension of a rail spur. What we instead saw, was in essence, a new conditional use permit process, hearing, which we've already been through and been approved."

On Tuesday, city council member Dave Duax, who also serves on the plan commission, addressed that concern. 

"I don't really think we understood what we were dealing with, we were babes in the woods so to speak. I think the plan commission tried and I think members of the plan commission today, know a lot more than they did a year ago and today if this was brought up, I think they would be more up to speed. We were not, " says Duax.

Councilman David Klinkhammer was the only member to vote in favor of the agreement, with some adjustments in mind. 

Klinkhammer says,"Once we've granted a conditional use permit, it makes more sense to make sure that property values aren't adversely affected, that people's health are not adversely affected."

WQOW News 18 asked attorney Brian Nodolf if any legal action could be taken because the city already approved a conditional use permit.  He says,"I believe there are a number of legal issues here, I am not going to elaborate on them at this time, as I said we will evaluate all of our options, as we move forward and proceed on the one we see is most appropriate. Our focus is on moving forward with the project we we're planning to do and that, as I said, we are committed to doing it. So, we are not really weighing other options for the property."

The company did not give a specific timeline on when they would move forward.

One more note, Muskie Proppant already owns a portion of the property just off Anderson Drive where the proposed rail spur would go in.

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - A frac sand transfer facility won't be built in Eau Claire.  At least not for the time being. 

Tuesday night, the Eau Claire City Council rejected the plans from Muskie Proppant on a nine to one vote.  A motion by Muskie Proppant to postpone the vote for two weeks also failed.  The company wanted more time to talk to the city and residents about the project.

Muskie Proppant wanted to build a rail spur on the city's north side.  The spur would've been used to transfer frac sand.  Tuesday night, a developer's agreement went before the Eau Claire City Council.  

A public hearing was held on Monday.  The city council heard from an attorney representing Muskie Proppant about the project. Attorney Brian Nodolf says there would be no mining or processing at the site, that all of the washing and drying would happen in Pierce County where the sand will be coming from.

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