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Commission deals with sawmill permit


Fri, Feb 23rd, 2001
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By John TorgrimsonMonday, February 26, 2001

“We need to help these sawmills come into compliance with the ordinance,” Mike Tuohy, Chairman of the Fillmore County Planning Commission, said at Thursday’s monthly meeting.

Tuohy sees the role of the commission as one of collaborator, rather than that of a regulator. “The county has set some standards for sawmills to operate under and we need to help them do it,” he noted.

His comments came as the commission was holding a public hearing on Kent Erding’s application for a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to operate the Fillmore Sawmill.

Erding, who has operated the sawmill for the past 28 years, told the commission that this is the first time he has needed to get a permit and that it takes “time and money” to make all the adjustments required in the ordinance.

The primary issues facing Erding and other sawmill operators in the county is the stockpiling of slabwood, sawdust and other debris, as well as the parking of trucks and equipment and the off-road loading of lumber.

Erding told the commission that he has been working with Fillmore County Zoning Administrator Norm Craig to make changes to his operation. Erding said that he has plans to enclose the mill area, fence off the sawmill along the right of way and ensure that logs are unloaded off-road.

“I am sensitive to the concerns that some may have about the sawmill,” Erding said. “That is why I have always tried to put back into the community to make up for any impacts.”

Wayne Winslow, who lives in Fillmore, submitted a petition from 15 residents asking that the sawmill take certain actions to “clean up its act”.

Winslow said that the group is in no way opposed to Erding getting a permit, but wanted to raise a number of issues that needed attention.

Winslow said that the sawmill is a fire hazard and that there are safety and security issues with the mill being wide-open for anyone to come in there. He also said that the operation is extremely noisy and raised the issue of trucks blocking traffic on the streets. He concluded his remarks by saying that the sawmill is a general eyesore and that it needs to be “cleaned up”.

The planning commission recommended forwarding Erding’s permit on to the county board with a number of conditions. They recommended giving the sawmill one year to clean up all debris within 50 feet of the road right of way. The sawmill would then need to develop a plan for the disposal of all other debris. The commission also recommend that Erding build a fence around the sawmill yard by November 1, 2001.

Commission member Jim Keune said that the fence was important because the sawmill is located in an urban setting and there are concerns about safety and security.
Rock Quarry

The Planning Commission recommended sending a request for a Rock Quarry permit for Ron Gehling in Carrolton Township on to the county board with conditions.

Two neighbors to the quarry, Glen Holst and Harlin Taylor asked that there be better notification when blasting will occur. Holst said that his well water was cloudy for three weeks after blasting occurred last summer. He further requested that seismic testing be done near the well on his homestead as well as an adjoining farm.

The planning commission agreed, recommending that Gehling notify by mail all neighbors within a one mile radius of the site within two days of blasting. They also recommended that the quarry do seismic testing near both of Holst’s two wells when blasting.

Communication Towers

Curtis Walter, a consultant from Rochester representing Richland Communications, was before the commission regarding two communication towers that will be built in the county. The towers will be used for wireless phone communication, with anywhere from five to nine companies leasing tower space from Richmond.

The two sites are located in Canton and Preston townships. A third tower, located south of Chatfield, will be before the planning commission in March.

The commission recommended sending the permits on to the county board for approval, noting the need for fencing around the towers for safety and security reasons.

When asked by commission member Duane Bakke, how many permits for towers would be coming before the commission in the future, Walter said that he wasn’t sure.

“Generally, towers need to be 15 to 25 miles apart in rural areas, and closer together than that where demand is greater,” Walter said.

Other Action

•Recommended approval for a CUP for Rob Hanks Swine Feedlot in Beaver Township. Hanks will expand from 462 animal units to 862. Included in Hanks application was a Pollution Abatement Plan as well as a Good Neighbor Plan.

•Recommended approval for a CUP to Stephen Larson and Lisa Flicker to operate a B&B in Harmony Township. Flicker told the commission that one room in their house will be converted for this use.

Next Month
•Greg Anshus, Chatfield Township, subdivision replat, from two lots to one.
•Richland Communications, CUP for tower near Chatfield.
•Arlyn Johnson, Holt Township, subdivision replat, changes to property line.
•Eagle Cliff Campground, Holt Township, B& B and campground expansion.
•Peterson Estate Subdivision north of Mabel.
By John Torgrimson

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