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Preston City Council: Council spells out conditions for Heartland building permit

Fri, Oct 31st, 2003
Posted in Features

The council had passed a similar measure at their regular October 20 meeting. But Tuesdays action spelled out, in more detail, the conditions the Mausts would need to meet in order for a building permit to be issued in the future.

There were two main conditions to Tuesdays resolution.

First, the city council would not issue a building permit, zoning permit or certificate of occupancy to Heartland until any pending litigation has been resolved.

Southeastern Minnesota for Environmental Protection (SEMEP) has appealed the Minnesota Pollution Control Agencys (MPCA) decision not to require an Environmental Impact Statement on the proposed tire-burning facility. On October 20, the city of Preston chose to intervene in the case on the side of SEMEP. Heartland Energy has already intervened on the side of the MPCA. The appeal is scheduled to be heard on December 2 in Rochester.

Second, the council would not issue a building permit to Heartland until the energy company can provide all required federal, state and local permits and agreements.

Tuesdays resolution passed along traditional lines, with Council members Robert Sauer and Mike McGarvey joining Mayor David Pechulis in favoring the resolution. Council members Heath Mensink and Jerry Scheevel voted against the measure.

For the most part, the debate around the resolution to deny a building permit was civil and reasoned. Mayor Pechulis allowed no public comment from the standing room crowd at the meeting.

Council Debate

The debate over the resolution centered around whether the Mausts building permit request was to make changes to an existing building or whether the request was the first in a series of building permits that Heartland would need to create the tire-burning facility.

Jerry Scheevel argued that the Mausts merely wanted to modify their building by making the doors bigger and adding cupolas for ventilation.

They have a warehouse and want to make changes, Scheevel argued. We havent denied anyone before.

Heath Mensink agreed with Scheevel.

There is not enough basis for denying, Mensink said.

But Mike McGarvey disagreed, countering that this was the first in a series of building permits required for the Heartland project.

Mayor Pechulis concurred, saying that this (permit application) clearly has something to do with Heartland.

The other concern raised by Scheevel and Mensink had to do with a letter received by the citys legal council, Kennedy & Graven.

In a letter dated October 24, Mary Tietjen wrote that the city must issue a building permit if Heartland has submitted an application and building plans that comply with the citys ordinances.

The letter continued to say that unless the City can show that it has some basis upon which to deny a building permit or condition it upon approval of all other operational permits, it is my opinion that the City should grant the building permit.

Tietjen, who had communicated with the MPCA, listed three permits that Heartland had yet to obtain: National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Storm Water Permit; Wastewater Discharge Permit; and Waste Tire Processing Permit.

Tietjen qualified this by stating that, based on her review, the citys ordinances do not require that all operational permits from other agencies be obtained prior to the issuance of a building and use permit.

Mike McGarvey used Tietjens letter to support waiting until all operational permits were in hand before issuing a building permit.

That is a valid reason for denying at this time, McGarvey said.

Heath Mensink on the other hand took Tietjens written comments to conclude that there were no reasons to deny issuing the permit.

Id like to remind everyone, that if you vote for this, you are going against your legal council, Mensink said.

In the end, the resolution passed.

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