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Fillmore County Planning Commission: Quarries dominate planning commission meeting


Fri, Jul 18th, 2003
Posted in Features

Commissioner Randy Dahl thinks that when quarry operators lie to a county commissioner, they should have their quarry permits revoked. Dahl told as much to Jeff Roverud of Peterson Brothers of Harmony at the Fillmore County Planning Commission meeting on Thursday night.

Dahl had started out explaining that he thought quarry operators were responsible for dust control, even if a contract trucker was hauling from the quarry. He then went on to explain an incident where he was told on the phone that trucks weren’t hauling at a quarry near Lanesboro, only to drive to the site and see trucks hauling. This constituted the lie Dahl was referring to.

When Dahl segued into a discussion about employee inefficiency, Roverud took exception and told him as much.

“I take exception to that, sir, “ Roverud said. (Emphasis on the sir).

This bit of psychodrama was played out during a public hearing for Peterson Brothers’ renewal of a conditional use permit (CUP) for the Douglas Quarry in Fillmore Township.

Also testifying during the hearing was Jeremy Pavlish, a hydrologist with the DNR in Rochester. Pavlish had concerns about the quarry, especially in regard to its potential impact on Watson Creek and the groundwater that feeds it.

Pavlish recommended placing conditions on the CUP: that the quarry go no lower that it presently is; that any fractures on the quarry floor be bermed; and if water rises, that the DNR and MPCA be notified immediately. These conditions were eventually adopted into a motion by the Planning Commission to the County Board that they approve a CUP for the Douglas Quarry.

Also discussed during the hearing were problems with blasting at the site. Roverud agreed to try using half a blast load to see if it reduces fly rock coming out of the quarry onto adjacent fields. Roverud agreed to invite Zoning Administrator Norm Craig to the next blast event to monitor the situation.

Sanford Quarry

The Planning Commission turned down a request by Roger Sanford to develop a quarry on property he owns in York Township. Sanford ran into a buzzsaw of opposition.

Mark White, Manager of Forestville State Park, representing the DNR at the meeting, referred to a letter sent to the Zoning Department that opposed granting the CUP. White said that dye tracing in the watershed has shown that surface runoff impacts on Canfield Stream in Forestville State Park. White also said that the DNR is interested in the underground hydrology below Sanford’s land and the need to protect the groundwater in the area.

County Commissioner Chuck Amunrud also spoke in opposition to the plan. Amunrud showed a map showing the sinkhole probability on Sanford’s land.

“This land lies in a high probability zone,” Amunrud said.

Amunrud also pointed out to the Commission that when land adjacent to Sanford’s was being looked at as a quarry in 1998, Sanford spoke out against the application.

Planning Commission member Duane Bakke agreed with Amunrud saying that he found it “ironic” that Sanford would be applying for a quarry on property “next door” to land where he opposed a quarry in the past.

Bakke made the motion to deny Sanford a favorable recommendation.

Fountain Subdivision

Developer Geoff Griffin of Chatfield told the Planning Commission that he was pulling his application to build a subdivision (Rabe Ridge Subdivision) in Fountain Township after the township enacted an interim ordinance on Tuesday, which, among other things, prohibits the establishment of new residential sites, including a subdivision.

Griffin was critical of the townships actions, saying that he met with them in good faith to explain the development only to find out later that the interim ordinance was adopted.

“It takes about $10,000 to bring a preliminary plat together,” Griffin said. “Only to find a rush ordinance being put together to stop you.”

Griffin said the present zoning is not working.

“You’re half way into the battle and they change the rules,” Griffin said.

Bakke complimented Griffin for pulling his application, shaking his head.

Fountain Township is the fifth township to enact their own zoning (four regarding housing; one regarding feedlots). One resident of Fountain Township told the Journal that the county has brought this on themselves.

“We’re not against housing or subdivisions, we just want enough room to plan for development. We don’t want a subdivision on a township road. Where was the county’s leadership on this (subdivisons) when they were having all of those meetings over a year ago?” the person said.

In reaction to the interim ordinance potentially being enacted, Griffin applied for four building permits to build houses under the two residences per 1/4 1/4 rule.

The issue will no doubt be discussed again in the future when the Planning Commission looks into developing cooperative optional zoning between the county and townships.

Other Business

•The Commission sent on to the County Board, recommendations to approve CUPs for Peterson Brothers to operate the Frank Quarry in Bristol Township and the Big Springs Quarry in Harmony Township.

•The Commission held a public hearing on the amended Feedlot Ordinance, agreeing to send it on to the County Board without a recommendation on feedlot setbacks. The Commission couldn’t agree on offset odor evaluation percentages.

•The Commission also sent on to the Commissioners, amended ordinances for Large Group Assemblies, Telecommunica-tion Towers, and Airports.

•The Board of Adjustment approved a 7’ variance from the center line of the road for Dennis and Jane Meisner of Fillmore Township to add on to their house.

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