New Law Addresses Nonmetallic Mining Regulations

June 27, 2023

The recent shared revenue bill negotiated, passed, and signed by the Wisconsin State Legislature and Governor Evers made statutory changes to regulating nonmetallic quarry operations. These changes balance local authority and the need for construction materials (e.g., gravel, crushed stone, and sand) while ensuring safety and regulatory consistency.

Local Regulation

Local political subdivisions may still enact nonmetallic mining ordinances requiring a conditional use permit or a nonmetallic mining license. Any new regulation requiring such permit or license will not apply to an existing quarry or the land adjacent to the existing quarry if the land has the same ownership, can be shown to have been intended for quarry operations, and is in the same political subdivision. The statutory changes provide that political subdivisions may only impose conditions on quarry operators based on substantive evidence, not personal preferences or mere speculation. These statutory changes promote transparency, fairness, and accountability in the regulatory process, leading to well-informed judgments regarding quarry operations.

Hours of Operation

Under the new provisions, political subdivisions cannot limit the times and days of operation for materials used in public works projects requiring construction work during night hours or in emergency repairs. This provision recognizes the importance of flexibility when construction projects require continuous operation or immediate responses to address critical infrastructure needs.

Blasting Regulations (No Blasting Prohibition)

The new statutory changes protect the rights of quarry owners to conduct blasting to extract materials from quarries subject to specific requirements to ensure safety and minimize potential impacts. Political subdivisions may not prohibit blasting but may require quarry operators:

  • To provide advance notice of blasting operations to the political subdivisions and the owners of buildings within the affected area;
  • Conduct building surveys to help assess and mitigate potential impacts on nearby buildings;
  • Test wells to protect water resources;
  • Provide evidence of insurance; and
  • Submit blasting logs and reports.

These measures enhance transparency and enable local authorities to monitor and regulate blasting activities effectively while recognizing the need for blasting to provide construction materials at reasonable prices within local markets.

The new statutory changes provide a balanced approach to addressing a contentious issue. While political subdivisions retain the power to regulate land use and access to quarries, the changes ensure that regulations are not unduly burdensome and do not hinder quarry operations essential for construction and public works projects.