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No EIS for Rein Quarry or Old Barn Expansions

Fri, Apr 26th, 2013
Posted in All Government

By Karen Reisner

The county board unanimously approved a negative declaration for each planned expansion at their April 23 meeting, requiring no preparation of an EIS. With the board room audience seats nearly full Chairman Randy Dahl maintained this was the day for the commissioners to comment on the Environmental Assessment Worksheet (EAW) for the Rein Quarry and no comments from the public would be accepted this day relating to the EAW.

Rein Quarry

Zoning Administrator Chris Graves noted the public comment period on the EAW was from January 21 through February 20. He stressed this was an environmental assessment and not an economic assessment.

The quarry is located in Section 35 of Holt Township. In 2008 a CUP was approved for a 2.1 acre quarry site. The site operated by Reilly Construction was increased to 18.36 acres under a new CUP in 2010. The current proposed expansion is for a total of 50 acres which is planned to be done in 10 acre phases. About 5 acres have been disturbed at this time.

Graves noted any expansion over 40 acres requires an EAW. A mandatory Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is triggered with over 160 acres. Currently, the mine is primarily producing sand for livestock bedding. There is a lack of demand at this time for the St. Peter Sandstone particle size (used in fracturing for natural gas).

The findings of fact were reviewed which addressed ten environmental questions. These environmental concerns are regulated by the county’s new ordinance for industrial mining, 736. Graves explained no chemicals will be used, no washing, no new wells will be dug as water will be used for dust control only, no on-road parking, all loads are required to be covered, the haul route should be mainly on state roads, a road impact fee agreement is required, noise reduction equipment is required, limits to operating times, a limit on vertical mining close to the water table, a maximum of 50 acres for the size of the mine, and a required reclamation plan.

Commissioner Duane Bakke made clear that trucks will not be going through the city of Lanesboro and will not be using gravel roads. He added that state roads are built to handle truck traffic.

It is noted that no other industrial sand quarries are anticipated within an eight mile radius of the Rein Quarry. Bakke said it is three miles as the crow flies to a fishing stream from the mining site.

The EAW had been sent out for comment to 16 state and federal agencies. Bakke described discussions with the MPCA. They were concerned about chemicals or high water usage. Both are addressed in the county’s ordinance 736 which allows no use of chemicals and no washing of the sand on site. Bakke said if there is ever haul back material it will be tested. He suggested hauling sand out of this site is about the same as any sand hauled out of any pit in the county.

Bakke addressed previous citizen suggestions that the Rein Quarry Expansion be added to the Minnesota Sands EIS to be overseen by the Environmental Quality Board. The letter from the MPCA cited in recent weeks by citizens, suggesting the Rein Quarry be included with the Minnesota Sands EIS in what is seen by some as a cluster of mining projects, was received after the end of the comment period. It was noted in Findings of Fact that “Fillmore County disagrees with that conclusion regarding the Rein Quarry proposed expanded mining project.” Bakke said that after discussions with an MPCA staff person and answering a bunch of questions, nothing more has been heard from the MPCA concerning that. Bakke noted a lot of the MPCA questions concerned Winona. He commented that the MPCA seemed pretty much satisfied with our answers.

Bakke insisted precedent is being set by the Rein Quarry. It was noted in the conclusions that the proposed expansion of the Rein Quarry “does not have the potential for significant environmental effects.” Bakke suggested with Ordinance 736 they are being required to do more than ever before. He added the county is doing a good job protecting its citizens.

Graves recommended a negative declaration, requiring no preparation of an EIS. The negative declaration was approved unanimously.

Old Barn Expansion

As the discussion concerning the Old Barn EAW was started, many citizens left the room demonstrating the lack of controversy surrounding the proposed campground expansion.

The Old Barn Resort, Carrolton Township, was opened in 1990. A decade later, with new owners, a nine hole golf course was constructed with a completed 18 hole golf course by 2005.

The proposed expansion is for an additional 108 permanent campsites with hookups for water, sewer, and electric which will disturb about 11 acres.

The public comment period for the EAW was from March 18 through April 16. Comment letters came from MnDot, MPCA, and the Minnesota Historical Society. Copies of the EAW were sent to 16 state and federal agencies.

Five potential environmental impacts were identified. Mark Welch, G-Cubed Engineering, representing the developer said all the requirements for NPDES permit have been met.

The county concluded that the proposed expansion does not have the potential for significant environmental effects. The board unanimously approved a negative declaration, requiring no preparation of an EIS.

The next step for both expansions is a Conditional Use Permit.

Other Business In Brief

*Members of the Fillmore County child protection team which includes social services and law enforcement personnel (sheriff department and attorney’s office) discussed their activities on behalf of children. Attorney Lee Novotny said child protection matters. Together they treat the whole problem which involves the whole family. Community Services Director Beth Wilms commended the team for the difficult work they do and for working so well together as a team. April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.

*Brenda Pohlman presented information on the Minnesota state initiative to reduce traffic fatalities, Toward Zero Death. Over the years since the initiative was introduced there has been a 28 percent reduction in fatalities and a 32 percent reduction in serious injury. The initiative involves engineering, emergency services, education and law enforcement. Pohlman said law enforcement is more effective when partnered with education.

Pohlman cited county rankings within the state. Fillmore County ranks last in distracted driving and 86 out of 88 in speeding.

*Sheriff Daryl Jensen received approval to distribute a request for proposal (RFP) for a new records management system, computer automated dispatch and jail management system. The system would be web based and provide for mobile data.

*Rita Leduc asked during citizens input if there is a data base listing sink holes in the county and if there is an official definition. She asked if there is a listing of springs and seeps. Bakke suggested a geological map and seeking information from SWCD. He said there are rules for custom applicators of chemicals to comply with such limitations as setbacks from a stream.

*The low quote for a sign puller from Truck Utilities for $3,323 was approved. A quote from Frontier Precision for a survey software upgrade was approved.

*Fillmore County has been selected to receive the Meritorious Achievement Award in Occupational Safety from the Minnesota Safety Council.

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