County board discusses actions
at state level on sand mines, quarry
Monday, May 13, 2013 10:07 AM
The May 7 Fillmore County Board of Commissioners regular meeting was called to order with Commissioner Thomas Kaase participating via telephone conference as much of the discussion centered on sand mining.
Commissioner Duane Bakke explained some recent developments with a fish and game bill being pushed through the Minnesota Legislature and its impact on the distance a silica sand mine could be to a trout stream or other karst features. Language had been stricken from the bill, which would require there to be at least a one-mile setback from those features. However, at the time this paper went to press, additional attempts to add the language back in were being made. Bakke explained that the intention of the bill would be to eliminate all possible silica sand mines. He pointed out that under the language, those mines already allowed by the county and conditional use permit process would still be allowed. However, if the language changed from "frac sand" to "sand," Bakke said the county would see even more restriction.
Bakke expressed disappointment in the reaction the county has received from the state in its decision to not require an environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Rein Quarry. He said, "I would like to show them what our process was to help them understand what we went through."
Chair Randy Dahl asked if they had any idea the county had gone through a moratorium and had solicited help from the commissioners, experts and citizens to write Ordinance 736, which is the county-wide ordinance on silica sand mining.
Bakke said they didn't.
In related news, a road-use agreement with Reilly Construction for the Rein Quarry was determined. The per ton per mile rate for hauling sand was set at 22 cents. This rate for the road impact fee will get reviewed every two years by the county engineer. According to the commissioners, a four-mile section from the mine has been plotted out along highways 10, 37 and 43 to Winona. These would be the only roads able to be used for truck hauling. These changes will be included in an updated conditional use permit, for which the Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing on May 16.
Disagreement was also voiced by Commissioner Chuck Amunrud on a recent addition to the language of a workers' compensation bill (House File 1799). According to the language change, post-traumatic stress disorder would be able to be diagnosed by a licensed physician. Amunrud said he was concerned about this because a person would be able to claim stress on a job as being derived from PTSD and receive workers' compensation without diagnosis from a more competent PTSD assessment from a psychologist. While sharing that compensating individuals with PTSD is important, he shared, "Who diagnoses PTSD is very important. The courts will be busy."
County engineer Ronald Gregg asked the board to accept the low bids on two road projects. The first was a resurfacing project for County Road 23. Gregg also said that prices had come in for the blacktop at $67 per ton and the estimated amount of blacktop to be used is 11,000 tons. The second project is a concrete surfacing project to be completed on County Road 24. Gregg said the low bid came in 1 percent higher than his estimate at roughly $2.4 million. The project would be completed during a 30-day period within a window of time between May 28 and Oct 4.
Gregg also said that all the new office furniture had been installed in the Highway Administration building. The bill amounted to around $42,000, which Gregg said was lower than what the original quote had been.
Through Schwab LLC, the board received three options to complete the exterior of the Highway Administration building. The current metal panels on the old east entrance to the building are obsolete and cannot be replaced. The board opted to remove and reside the east wall at $4,400. In order to have continuity in color, the board also approved the residing of the southern exposure at $10,626. Additional curb and gutter concrete work was approved at $758.
Kaase, who was at an Interoperability Conference in St. Cloud, updated the board on what had occurred at a State Radio Board meeting. He shared that one bill would take $1.5 million from 911 funds from this year and another $1.5 million from next year's 911 funds, which he said was not a good thing. The money would be used to pay for a tax rebate, which Kaase said should come from a general fund. He said reallocating funds in this way was not a good practice since changes in communication will be costly in the future.
The board accepted the lone quote for a new engine driven trash pump, which would replace the current 1951 model. It was decided to place the old pump up for auction at Gehling Auction, Inc., and purchase the new pump at $11,500 plus tax.
As part of the consent agenda, the board approved the use of the courthouse parking lots by the city of Preston Chamber of Commerce on June 13, July 11 and Aug. 8 for Family Fun Night.