Fillmore County commissioners, meeting Tuesday, Nov. 27, approved two mining ordinances and approved lifting the current one-year moratorium on new mining permits that was put in place in February.

The planning commission, meeting Nov. 15, approved enacting the two ordinances.

The first ordinance amendment approved was to Fillmore County Zoning Ordinance 721, formerly known as Extraction of Minerals, Open Pits, and Impounding of Waters, and now known as Excavation and Mining of Construction Minerals. The county placed the moratorium on this ordinance in February so that more study of frac sand mining could be completed. The committee that was formed to do this realized that a separate ordinance was needed to address frac sand mining, and that is how ordinance 736 came about.

Ordinance 721 will continue to cover construction mining, while 736 addresses industrial (including frac sand) mines.

Zoning Administrator Chris Graves said 721 has been strengthened and everyone on the planning commission is favorable to this updated version of the ordinance.

This ordinance covers reclamation plans, geologic surveys, setbacks, blasting standards, seismograph reports, inspections, fees, road use, covered loads, and surety bonds.

Graves then addressed Ordinance 736, noting this is a new section to the zoning ordinance as a result of 721, entitled Excavation and Mining of Industrial Minerals and Materials.

It was noted this ordinance reflects work and discussion that came from the sand committee, the planning commission and from members of the public. Graves said the "biggest items" in this ordinance are that mines allowed in the county are limited to five and it only allows 50-acre sites with 25 active, open acres.

Also covered in the ordinance are "mining operation plan, road impact fee, operational requirements, blasting and reclamation." The zoning administrator added loads must be covered with tarps and be loaded onsite. Scales will be required at all locations. Graves said the road maintenance agreement was modeled after Winona County's.

Commissioner Randy Dahl asked how signup would be handled for the conditional use permits (CUPs) to mine. Graves said it would be the order of who signs up and who continues to be moved through the process, completing the needed steps to be approved.

The commissioners then quickly approved a resolution to end the sand mining interim ordinance and moratorium, put in place in February.

The board then approved increasing the fee from $450 to $750 on all CUPs under ordinance 736 per Grave's request. He said he expects the amount of work and review time on these permits will increase with this ordinance. Commissioners wondered if this fee would cover the costs sufficiently. It was noted that it could always be revisited in the future.

TIF district in Spring Valley

Mike Bubany of David Drown Associates spoke to the board members about waiving the 30-day notice requirement to create a Tax Increment Finance (TIF) District.

Bubany said Todd Jones of Spring Valley has requested tax increment assistance to build a new True Value store in Spring Valley, located in the open lot area northwest of Kwik Trip. Bubany said this would be a nine-year economic development TIF district where Jones would pay taxes and for nine years get some of it back to help him get established.

Bubany added this is "not a bond issue" but it was a "limited obligation to reimburse taxes for those nine years if they are paid."

Due to the time frame Jones requested, Bubany is asking the county to sign the paperwork soon. The commissioners approved waiving the usual 30-day notice requirement. The Spring Valley City Council will hold a public hearing Nov. 28 to discuss the matter.

In other business, the commissioners handled the following issues.

• Wanda Jensen and Tami Sheff of Workforce Development, with offices in Preston, spoke to the commissioners about the types of programs they offer for job seekers and employers. Jensen noted the non-profit has a "fabulous partnership with the county." The commissioners approved the 2013 service agreement with Workforce Center, Inc., in Preston.

• Veterans Services Officer Jason Marquardt approached the board about using funds from the Veterans Outreach grant to purchase brochures, sympathy cards for families of veterans, stickers and pens for the department. The commissioners approved the purchases. Marquardt noted he would have about $1,000 left of the grant that he plans to use for advertising purposes.

• Kristina Kohn in human resources spoke to the commissioners about some new hires, which would all be effective Dec. 7. The board approved hiring three part-time intermittent deputies - Timothy Melver, Jessy Betts and Wade Anderson. The board approved the hire of Doreen Bergo as a replacement Home Health aide in the Wykoff area. Sheila Buenger, who transferred in-house, was approved as the replacement office support specialist for the assessor's office. David Haugen was hired as an intermittent dispatcher. It was noted that Timothy Melver has also been serving as an intermittent dispatcher.

• Kohn also discussed changing dental insurance coverage from Dearborn National Dental to United Healthcare Dental. She said the new coverage has the same providers, plus two more locations in Chatfield and the same coverage. Commissioners approved it, contingent upon approval by both unions. The commissioners approved eliminating the current dental plan.

• The commissioners approved the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local #49 Highway contract. Kohn said there were a few changes in the contract, which includes it being a two-year contract now, and all employees must provide 12 months of service instead of six before moving from specialist one title to specialist two. It also involved updating the seniority list and now employees will receive $200 every year for shoes, instead of every two years. Kohn said this makes the employee accountable for having safe and proper shoes. They are required to wear steel-toed boots. The option was discussed to look into shoe vendors that could work with the county, instead of the current option. Kohn said she would look into it.

• The commissioners approved a CUP for Heusinkveld Farms to expand their dairy facility in Forestville Township. Graves said they are moving up to 600 animal units.

• They also approved a CUP for Gary and Matt Hellickson of Carimona Township for a feedlot expansion to go from 250 to 720 animal units.

• Jon Martin with sanitation approached the board about purchasing a 2000 Sterling semi-truck from Thompson Motors with a trade in of the 1991 Ford semi. The cost after trade for the used truck is $7,600. The truck has close to 700,000 miles on it. The commissioners approved the purchase.