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Citizens lobby to require EIS for all industrial mines

Fri, Apr 5th, 2013
Posted in All Government

The Fillmore County Board at their April 2 meeting heard from nearly a dozen citizens during the citizen input portion of their meeting. On April 23 the commissioners will make a decision on the Rein Quarry expansion. Commissioner Duane Bakke announced that Reilly Construction, operator for the Rein Quarry, had approved in a letter to let the decision making period be extended to the twenty-third of April. The decision is whether or not to require a more intensive study, the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

Citizens that addressed the board were lobbying and encouraging the board to require an EIS for the Rein expansion. Also, they would like to see a Rein Quarry expansion EIS included with the Minnesota Sands LLC study. The state Environmental Quality Board (EQB) on March 20 agreed to act as the regulatory governmental unit for that EIS. Minnesota Sands has proposed to operate at four mining sites in Pilot Mound Township, two nearby in Winona County and one in Houston County. The sites are in relatively close proximity.

Catherine Glynn, Lanesboro, spoke for herself and Adrienne Sweeney asking that an EIS be required for the Rein Quarry. She ended saying the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency shares this belief. Glynn said she loves this place (Fillmore County) that she didn’t know existed growing up in the “cities.”

Bill Swanson, Lanesboro, complimented the Sand Committee and the board for the great job they did, producing a tough ordinance. He felt all the mines should be treated the same and be required to complete an EIS. Emily Spende, Lanesboro, agreed.

Loni Kemp, Canton, asked that all the commissioners take the time to read all of the comments on the Rein Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW). She insisted there are tons of remaining questions on water, air, and transportation impacts. The Rein expansion should be part of the whole study, the EIS. She encouraged them to consider, “Is there the potential for significant environmental impact?” Kemp insisted it would be more efficient to order an EIS for the Rein expansion and request the EQB to add it to the Minnesota Sands EIS.

Vern Crowson, Pilot Mound Township, said he agreed with those who spoke before him and encouraged further study to be done up front.

Eliza Mitchell, Lanesboro, expressed suspicion as to why the Rein expansion would not want to be included in a group EIS.

Jane Peck, Carrolton Township, stated she had attended the EQB meeting when they agreed to be the regulatory government unit for the Minnesota Sands EIS. The EQB members kept repeating they have not done enough study, detailing eight categories. Peck encouraged the county board to let the research be completed and include the Rein expansion in the EIS.

Pete Keith, Holt Township, suggested it was logical to include the Rein expansion with the others in the EIS study.

David Webb, Lanesboro, started saying he was a medical doctor. He said he was not taking sides, but encouraged research from a pro health perspective. Webb said the risk of exposure to non visible particulate matter so small it gets deep into the lungs like a gas needs to be studied. After the sand is processed, the material that is excluded is like hazardous waste as the larger, usable particles have been separated. He said an EIS is necessary and a continual monitoring process is needed.

Karen Swanson, Lanesboro, maintained she strongly recommends an EIS for the Rein Quarry.


A resolution was unanimously approved to issue a Conditional Use Permit to Stantec Consulting on behalf of Fillmore County for the proposed Southeastern Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery as recommended by the Planning Commission. The county owns the 176 acre site located in Carrolton Township just off Highway 52 east of Preston. Commissioner Chuck Amunrud suggested they should begin the process to be ready to transfer the property over to Veterans Affairs. Bakke said they should get ready for the transfer, but don’t transfer the property until after funding comes through from the federal government. They should make sure the surveyed boundary is correct.

A CUP was approved as recommended by the Planning Commission for an Amish school house in Amherst Township, Section 13. The school house will be located on the property of Andy and Esther Gingerich. Initially, 6 or 7 students are expected, at a later date up to 20.

Other Business In Brief

•Sheriff Daryl Jensen said Fillmore County will participate in the National Take Back Initiative for prescription drug collections on April 27 from 10:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be no direct cost to citizens. Drugs will be collected at five locations: Chatfield City Hall, Mabel Community Center, Sheriff’s Department in Preston, Rushford Police Department, and Spring Valley Fire Hall. Collections are for expired, unused, unneeded prescription drugs. Commissioner Tom Kaase noted that illicit drugs can also be turned in, no questions asked. Disposal is paid for by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

•David Kiehne, Recorder, received approval for a web based city plat search upgrade by Pro West for a one time payment of $1,950. There eventually will be a free link on the website for people to access all plats. It could be late summer before this service to the public will be available as it will take some time to copy all the plats.

•The right of way plat for CSAH 5 from county road 118 to Highway 16 was approved. Commissioners were concerned about encroachment into the right of way along tillable agricultural land. They asked County Engineer Ron Gregg about marking the right of way boundary. Gregg suggested fiberglass stakes with RW on them could be placed at distances that would allow the farmer to see one from another. He added markers may not need to be placed until there is a violation.

•Gregg said they expect the Highway Administration Building remodel to be completed by April 12, after which furniture will be installed. They plan to move in about April 22.

•A resolution was adopted to encourage the state legislature to pass and the Governor to sign a bill to bring adequate funding to Minnesota’s transportation system. Increasingly, counties have had to rely on property tax to maintain roads and bridges.

•April was proclaimed as National County Government Month. “Smart Justice: Creating Safer Communities” is the theme.

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