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Mining moratorium lifted

Fri, Nov 30th, 2012
Posted in All Government

At the November 27 meeting of the county board the moratorium that was established February 28, 2012, was lifted after the mining ordinances were adopted. Commissioner Duane Bakke noted his attire this day, referring to his winter coat, is again what it was that day in February, illustrating the many changes in outer wear along the way through the seasons of this process.

The board room was again filled with many of the same residents that have contributed to the process. After the lifting of the moratorium and before the board concluded their business for the day, four applications for industrial mining had already been requested from the zoning office.

Earlier during the citizen input portion of the meeting, two people spoke asking for more restrictive language in the industrial mining ordinance. Steve Hartwick noted he lives less than a mile from the Fillmore County line and was concerned about the water table. He asked why not require a barrier of 25 feet from the water table rather than just 10 feet, adding it should not be a hardship for operators. Bakke said the DNR will comment on individual CUP applications and there may be a different number required for a particular CUP. Harvey Benson, Harmony, asked if livestock bedding production was commercial or industrial. Bakke explained bedding is commercial, adding that a mine operating under 736, industrial ordinance, can also produce a commercial product. However, a mine operating under 721, traditional construction materials, can not produce an industrial product. Benson then asked that industrial mines be limited to two per township, suggesting they proceed with caution.

There were no other comments from the public this day when the ordinances were discussed by the board as the public hearing for the ordinances had been held at the November 15 planning commission. At that time the planning commission voted unanimously to recommend adoption of each of the ordinances by the county board.


Zoning Administrator Chris Graves explained that during the review and study process, it was determined that two separate ordinances were needed, one for mining of construction materials (721) and one for industrial mining including frac sand mining (736). During the process 721 was strengthened. Commissioner Randy Dahl asked if materials produced for a wind farm would be under 721 or 736. Graves said they would be under 721 as the production of construction materials for a wind farm would not be a long term project. The amended ordinance 721 was unanimously adopted as presented. The moratorium last February had actually been placed on this ordinance.


Graves maintained there had been a lot of helpful public comments throughout the process during which this ordinance was developed. He briefly listed restrictions specific to this ordinance including only five active industrial mines throughout the county at a time, a limit of 50 acres with only 25 acres in use at a time, clarifying definitions, a review by a technical evaluation panel for each CUP application, mining operation plans, covered loads, road maintenance agreement, and a beefed up regulation of blasting activity.

Dahl asked about how the application procedure will work with the 5-mine limit Bakke said an application will need to keep moving forward to complete the checklist needed. There will be a 60-day period after the checklist is completed for the application to be acted on. Dahl asked how long a mine can stay dormant before reclamation. Bakke explained active mines have to pay annual fees.

Commissioner Chuck Amunrud asked about a scale at the mine. Graves said a scale will be required and reports will be made to the zoning office quarterly. Amunrud suggested the word “haul” be changed to be more encompassing in 736.04 (4 and 5). The word “haul” was changed to “transport” and the words “haul back” were deleted.

The board unanimously adopted 736 with those two minor language changes. After which, a resolution was unanimously adopted which removed the moratorium which had lasted about nine months.

In a related issue Graves requested that the board consider raising the CUP permit fee for applications pertaining to Section 736 from $450 to $750. The increase in the fee will help cover the additional hours of work and review time that will be necessary for these applications. Graves estimated it will take 28 hours per application of his time. The increased fee was approved.

•A CUP for Heusinkveld Farms, LLP, Section 28 Forestville Township, was approved to expand their existing feedlot to 600 animal units as recommended by the planning commission.

•A CUP for Gary and Matt Hellickson, Section 19 Carimona Township, was approved for a 720 animal unit feedlot.

•Amendments to Sections 402 and 404 of the Fillmore County Zoning Ordinance were approved as recommended by the planning commission. The amendments will remove the requirement for a permit for any size portable agricultural building on skids. A permit will not be required for concrete or asphalt pads poured for non-agricultural uses, excluding foundations and footings.

Other Business In Brief

•Wanda Jensen, of the non-profit Workforce Development, described the services they provide. They contract with Fillmore County to provide employment services. The county refers those individuals that come in for public assistance to the Workforce Development office to help them find employment. The goal is long-term full-time employment. Any job seekers can come in and use their resources, like computers.

A 2013 purchase of service agreement with the Workforce Center, Inc. was approved. It was noted that of 150 clients coming in from June to October, 83 have been placed at this point.

•A grant was excepted to be used for adoption and foster care recruitment. The grant will be used for software licensing for a system which will be helpful in locating relatives. By law it is required to look for every relative placement that is possible. Bakke maintained we need a larger network of foster care parents within the county.

•Jason Marquardt, VSO, noted that the Tomah, Wisconsin veterans clinic has suggested they can’t access the Minneapolis records of our vets. Marquardt said this isn’t so. Bakke suggested that authorization for a letter to Congressman Tim Walz be approved noting the difficulties in obtaining veteran services in Tomah and in Decorah for Fillmore County veterans. Beth Wilms, Community Services, insisted that the refusal to share records imposes an undue hardship on veterans. Authorization to draft a letter to Walz to be signed by the board chairman and also county attorney Brett Corson was given.

•A veterans outreach grant will be used to purchase brochures for the office, sympathy cards for families of lost veterans, and small calendars.

•Mike Bubany described the request from Todd Jones, Spring Valley, for a nine-year economic development tax increment financing district to assist him in rebuilding the True Value store that was destroyed by fire. The TIF district will allow for a reimbursement of property taxes paid over a nine-year period. The board authorized county auditor Shirl Boelter to sign a waiver document to waive a thirty-day notice requirement, so construction can start yet this year. There was to be a public hearing November 28 in Spring Valley.

•The International Union of Operating Engineers, Local #49 Highway contract was approved effective January 1, 2013, through December 31, 2014.

•An agreement with Baker Tilly Virchow Krause LLP for 2012-2014 county audits was approved.

•A used 2000 Sterling semi-truck from Thompson Motors with trade-in of a 1991 Ford semi was approved at a cost of $7,600, as requested by Jon Martin, Sanitation.

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