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Who you gonna call? Dustbusters?

Mon, Jun 12th, 2000
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Fillmore County Planning Commission May meeting
At the beginning of Thursday nights' Fillmore County Planning Commission meeting, commissioner Duane Bakke told the audience assembled "many of you are here to talk about dust on the roads. I've talked to the county attorney and we don't have a dust policy. And we cannot require dust control from private parties on county roads."

Well, Bakke was right, the audience did come to talk about dust on the roads. And before the night was over, the Planning Commission was the one talking about the need for a dust policy.

Actually, the county was putting a dust policy together back in April of 1999, but the plan was never fully adopted and implemented. Bakke drew laughs when he attached a condition to a rock quarry permit early in the meeting when he proposed that the party must comply with the Fillmore County Dust Control Policy. Even though there wasn't one now, Bakke reasoned, there was no reason the county might not have one in the future.

Approximately 75 people attended the meeting. Most of them were there to respond at the public hearings for conditional use permits for rock quarries and sand pits owned by Milestone Materials, Inc. (formerly known as Mathy Construction of Rochester). Of the ten permits being renewed by Milestone, the audience focused primarily on two: Fountain Quarry and Hammell Quarry.

Fountain Quarry is located at the edge of Fountain on blacktop. Hammell Quarry is located between Wykoff and Chatfield on County Road #7, a gravel road. County Road #7 is a primary route for haulers from both quarries.

Complaints on these two operations centered on what happens when a hauler leaves the yard.

Arlyn Scrabeck who lives on County Road #7 in Chatfield Township said that on Wednesday, with winds at 40 miles per hour, haulers made 30 trips past his house. "This is a real safety issue when you combine dust and speed," Scrabeck told the commission. "Someday they're going to be hauling bodies out."

Scrabeck, who estimates that he has spent over $1,000 on his own dust control over the years, said that this problem has been going on for a long time and nothing has ever been done. "Who do we call about this? he asked. "Los Angeles smog, and I've lived there, is probably cleaner."

Planning commission chairman Brian Hazel said that he was not sure what could be done until the county takes the initiative.

"Call every half hour," responded Carimona Township supervisor Ann O'Connor. "Call your county commissioner, then the sheriff, then Norm Craig (Zoning Administrator)."

Testimony continued along these lines. Karla Becker read a statement regarding the Hammell Quarry saying that Mathy had never lived up to the conditions set five years ago when the last permit was granted. Conditions at that time required Mathy to control for dust and speed and inform neighbors two weeks in advance before blasting.

Becker recommended that there needs to be a system of accountability and, when conditions are not met, consequences. She further recommended that a contact person be identified per quarry to handle and process complaints and see that the appropriate authorities are notified. Then warnings and, even, fines should be handed out.

Zoning administrator Norm Craig, when asked what happens if conditions are not being met, said that the matter can come back to the planning commission and that they could recommend to the county commissioners that the permit be revoked.

Eugene Arndt, who lives across from the Hammell Quarry, brought the house down when he was asked how much notification was needed before blasting. "Enough so that when you walk in the house and sit on the pot and every thing starts shaking, you'll know what caused it."

The commission voted to send all ten permits on to the county board for ap-proval. If there was any good that came out of the testimony, it was the consensus that the county would continue to visit the issue of dust control. Plan-ning commission member Mike Touhy said that we (county) need to get a plan together. County Engineer Steven Voigt agreed that there has to be a better system of accountability.

Many good ideas came from the discussions. There was a con-sensus that permit owners of quarries are responsible for what gets hauled out of their quarries; the county can stipulate in its contracts what routes contractors should use when hauling; a dust control policy must be county-wide; any increased costs can be passed on through the bidding process; the county should look at what adjoining counties are doing. The commission also felt that the county attorney needs to be involved in legal issues about dust control.

And, finally, who are you gonna call about dust control? County Engineer Steven Voigt said that you could call his office (507-765-3854). But most people will probably take Ann O'Connor's advice - call every half hour; your county commissioner, the sheriff, Norm Craig...

Non-farm homes. There was a brief discussion about the zoning ordinance as it pertains to non-farm homes on ag land. Deana Hageman told the commission of her frustration in trying to build on 16 acres of wooded land near Harmony because of the one non-farm home per 40 acres rule. Rollie Olson of Lanesboro voiced similar frustration as he cannot build on the fifteen acres he owns.

Harmony realtor, Roxanne Johnson said that the present ordinance is very confusing. It also doesn't take into consideration the best use for certain kinds of land.

Fillmore Central School Board member Gary Hellickson said that the rules are too complex. "It can't be this complicated, Hellickson said. "I'm sure that I can speak for all schools in Fillmore County, in that we need housing so that we can keep putting kids in our schools."

Hellickson-Scheevel. The planning commission recommended that a conditional use permit be given to Matt Hellickson and Eric Scheevel to build two swine finishing buildings in Carimona Township. The buildings will be built on ten to twelve acres the two men will purchase. Manure from the 996 animal unit operation will be applied on land owned by Gary Hellickson. A lease agreement to that effect will be signed by the two parties. There was no opposition voiced against the project at the meeting.

The next planning commission meeting was set for June 22 at 7:30 p.m.

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