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County moves toward mining law overhaul

(KOTA)
Published: Feb. 20, 2018 at 6:42 PM CST
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Pennington County took a big step Tuesday toward making a big change in the way it regulates surface mining.

After more than 10 hours of public comment over three separate meetings the Pennington County Commission approved the first reading of an overhaul of the county's aggregate mining ordinance. The proposed new law was approved with a late, key change sought by a vocal citizens' group who convinced the commissioners that the final decision on new mining permits should rest with the county commission.

Mining interests had hoped the new law would leave that authority where it is today with the un-elected planning commission. Mining industry representatives declined to speak with KOTA Territory News but representatives of the citizens' group were pleased.

"Because (decisions are made by) the elected officials," said Mike Hickey, attorney for the group Concerned Citizens of the Black Hills. "It's not people who are appointed. It's people who look at all of the facts and consider the public input which I think is important. They have to make a decision based on all of the facts, not just some of them."

Two years ago Croell Redi-Mix proposed expanding its operation south of Rapid City along Highway 16. Citizens objected spurring a battle that made its way all the way to the state Supreme Court. It also prompted the county launch a year-plus-long process of revamping its mining ordinance that is coming to a head today.

"We've dona lot of work," said Commissioner Deb Hadcock. "The committee, the planning commission, the board of commissioners, to get where we are today."

And there is still work to be done. Not decided at first reading Tuesday was how to handle renewals for mining ordinance. That will be taken up Friday at a special meeting at 4 p.m. The Commission also scheduled a second reading of the new law on Feb. 27 at 9 a.m.