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Latest Sand Mine Debate Heats Up In Utica

Posted by wlpo on November 21, 2013

When you’re talking about mining sand in La Salle County be prepared for long meetings and big crowds.

A standing room only crowd filled Grand Bear Lodge’s conference room last night as the Utica Planning Commission and Board of Trustees held a hearing on Aramoni, LLC’s proposal to annex 123 acres for a sand mine north of Love’s Travel Stop.  Once developer Steven Schuster was done explaining his plans and being drilled by the crowd, village officials decided to end the hearing for the night and restart it at 6 tonight back at Grand Bear.

Schuster says his group had intentions of turning the land north of Love’s into a warehouse development before the economy collapsed.  Soon after that they drilled down and found they were sitting on valuable silica sand which Schuster says has more value than a distribution center.

If they get permits and annexation approved, Schuster says they’d like to mine sand 24 hours a day, 7 days a week although blasting would only happen once every 7 to 10 days.  The developer has agreed to pay a 100 thousand dollar impact fee to Utica for increased costs of things like roads and fire protection.  Aramoni is also agreeing to fix nearby landowners wells if the sand mine negatively impacts their quality.

Utica Planning Commission member Willis Fry expressed frustration that he didn’t get revisions from the mine proposal until just before the meeting.  Schuster said they had been in talks with late Village President Fred Esmond but delayed moving forward while he battled health problems.

Trustee Matt Jereb is leery the developer eventually wanting to mine other property he owns in Utica south of Interstate 80.  Schuster says that won’t happen because the valuable silica sand isn’t on his other pieces of land.

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