At the county board’s October 24 meeting, County Attorney Brett Corson reviewed the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board (EQB) decision to table a request by Minnesota Sands to terminate the Environmental Impact Study (EIS).
The EQB ruled in 2013 that MN Sands must complete an EIS before working multiple sand mine sites in Fillmore, Houston, and Winona Counties. Due to the number of sites, there was concern over a possible cumulative impact to the environment.
MN Sands requested that they be released from the requirement to complete a comprehensive EIS. The company requested the EQB allow them to do a less comprehensive study, an Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) for one site of about 56 acres west of Rushford in Pilot Mound Township (Dablestein mine).
MN Sands sued Winona County on May 8, 2017. The company is requesting a judgment that Winona County’s ordinance (frac sand ban) is unlawful and unenforceable.
Corson argued in a letter to the EQB that the request to terminate the EIS be tabled until there is a decision by the court on the pending litigation in Winona County. If MN Sands was allowed to do the more limited EAW for the one Fillmore County mine, the county as the local government unit (LGU) would have to initiate a local review for the EAW. During this process, if the Winona County court ruled the Winona County ordinance was unlawful then the EIS requirement would need to be reinitiated. Corson maintained, therefore, to start the EAW process would be ineffective and inefficient at this time.
The EQB decided after their October 18 public hearing that they would delay action on the MN Sands request to terminate the EIS until March 1, 2018. This will allow time for the Winona County court to rule on the lawfulness of the Winona County ordinance along with a 60-day period after that ruling for the losing party to appeal the decision.
Corson said the county should be considering what to do from that point. Chairman Randy Dahl suggested we follow our ordinance. Commissioner Duane Bakke said we gave a legal opinion and now we wait and see; it is a proper process that will happen now.
Other business in brief
• Dahl extended his sympathy to the family of Harry Root who recently passed away. He will be missed.
• A resolution was approved strongly supporting the Canton Historical Society’s nomination of the Canton Railroad Depot to the National Register of Historic Places.
• The purchase of a Surface Pro tablet, keyboard, docking station carrying case and security case for Kevin Olson, Social Services Manager, was approved. The equipment will be paid for with Child Protection funding.
• The purchase of a tablet with the Immunization Practice Improvement program grant was approved, not to exceed $1,500.
• Approval was given for renewal of X-iO ISE hardware and software maintenance (Marco) through October 31, 2018, at a cost of $15,788.40. County Coordinator Bobbie Vickerman said this is a normal budgeted expense.
• The storage area network (SAN) will no longer be supported after October 31 in the courthouse. Marco has agreed to install a replacement SAN by October 31 and bill for installation and equipment in 2018. The cost is $52,273.80 and is included in the 2018 budget. The replacement was approved.
• The voting delegates for the Association of Minnesota Counties 2017 annual meeting will be commissioners Dahl, Lentz, Bakke, and Peterson and County Engineer Ron Gregg, coordinator Bobbie Vickerman, Veterans Officer Jason Marquardt, and Director of Nursing Jessica Erickson.
• The Discipline Policy and proposed changes were discussed. Human Resources Officer Kristina Kohn said she has had a request to have the proposed changes reviewed by the Department Heads. Attorney Corson said he was concerned about a shift from what he termed as a rehabilitation policy, suggesting this was a very different approach to what we have been doing. Vickerman said the new language outlines specifically what employees should not be doing. The policy will be discussed at the next meeting.
Kohn presented the Fleet Vehicles policy for its first reading with only some minor language changes.