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Suit challenging Gilmanton frac sand mine denied

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A lawsuit seeking to reverse Buffalo County’s 2012 approval of a frac sand mining project in the town of Gilmanton has been denied.

A Pierce County Circuit Court judge recently upheld the county’s Board of Adjustment decision to permit the mine, which raised concerns about safety because the truck hauling route ran south along state Hwy. 35 past the Cochrane-Fountain City School.

The C-FC school district and Mike O’Connor of Buffalo County filed merging suits alleging that there were errors in the permit paperwork, and that the board made mistakes during the approval process. The judge denied the suit’s argument that the board’s decision was arbitrary and unreasonable.

The suit was filed against developer R&J Rolling Acres, and Glacier Sands joined as a defendant because it is associated with the mine.

O’Connor and C-FC also argued that it was illegal for the mining company to apply a second time for a permit after the board denied the permit for a first time in March 2012, in part because of traffic safety concerns. After the operators submitted a second permit it was tabled multiple times because of traffic safety concerns on Hwy. 88.

The suit’s arguments on the second application were not persuasive, the judge ruled, because it would not be reasonable to permanently stop an operation simply because it submitted a second permit. The judge’s ruling frequently cited a lack of proof, foundation and legal authority in the suit’s arguments to overturn the board’s decision.

The operators plan to haul up to 105 truckloads of sand daily from the site. Under conditions of the permit, they will not be able to haul during regular school bus route times mornings and afternoons.

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