The long-time chairman of Preston Township near Blair, Wisc., received approval for a sand mine last month from the Trempealeau County Land Use and Environment Committee.
At a packed public hearing in Whitehall attended by Township Chairman Robert Tenneson and his wife, Lorna, next-door neighbors testified angrily that they were never personally notified of the plan and associated hearings.
"Why the secrecy?'' asked neighbor Paula Glynn.
County officials answered that individual notification of adjoining property owners isn't legally required.
Trempealeau, which borders the Mississippi River south of Winona, has issued more frac sand mining and facility permits than any other county in Wisconsin or Minnesota. Tenneson was an early supporter of the industry and the county's biggest mine was sited in his township. Then it was annexed to the City of Blair.
Like other local officials in western Wisconsin who have dealt themselves into the business -- see Star Tribune story -- Tenneson was careful to abstain from the critical township vote that endorsed the project. The venture with Spartan Sand LLC of Muskegon, Mich., will include digging sites, a processing plant and up to 200 trucks a day on roads in the Tenneson's rural neighborhood.