(Ste. Genevieve) The efforts of a local company to construct and operate a sand mine in rural Ste. Genevieve County and the efforts of local citizens and Ste. Genevieve County to oppose that mine have now gone into the courts. The county passed an ordinance that would force Nextgen Silica to operate no less than a half mile from a town, school, church, recreational or populated area, public or private wells and no less than a quarter mile from any occupied dwelling, sinkhole, or stream. The ordinance would effectively prevent Nextgen to conduct operations on the 240 acre section of property it has purchased and/or leased north of Hwy 32 near Hawn State Park. Nextgen has now filed a lawsuit in Ste. Genevieve County circuit court asking for an injunction to prevent the ordinance from being active and also seeking the costs of bringing the lawsuit. Ste. Gevevieve County, the Commission, the Ste. Genevieve County health department, and its board of trustees are all named as defendants. The lawsuit alleges that approval or restrictions for the operations of Nextgen’s mine lie solely with the Department of Natural Resources and its Missouri Clean Water Commission and Air Conservation Commission. The suit states that the county has no Planning and Zoning department and so cannot lay down provisions under that jurisdiction. And Nextgen claims that the creation of the ordinance came about after a series of Sunshine Law Violations in which the matter was discussed at meetings without proper notification on the agenda. Nextgen alleges that the ordinance was created out of a set of one sided information and that it was not published in the clerk’s office or the newspaper for required amount of time. Nextgen also alleges that this ordinance would allow its competitors to continue to operate.
The county passed the new ordinance in the third week of May. Nextgen received its permit for the mine from the Missouri Department of Natural Resources on June 30th and filed the lawsuit on the same day. The company is still required to get permits from Water and Air Commission sections of the DNR.