Bill's passage would limit moratoriumsA bill that could hinder local governments’ ability to prevent silica sand mines is making its way through the Legislature.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
A bill that could hinder local governments’ ability to prevent silica sand mines is making its way through the Legislature.
Having already been passed by the House committee and facing the Senate committee today, the bill would limit how local governments can implement interim ordinances like Goodhue County’s current mining moratorium.
The bill doesn’t specifically target Goodhue County, where speculation exists about a possible silica sand mine in Hay Creek Township, but will have a big affect.
The county’s one-year moratorium is set to expire in about seven months. Currently, the county is allowed to extend the moratorium for up to another year if it decides doing so would be necessary come September.
Approval of the bill before the Legislature would restrict that option.
“If the ability to extend were taken away, we’d have to work within the time we have,” Goodhue County Planning Director Mike Wozniak said.
At the last Goodhue County Board meeting, commissioners contemplated hiring professionals from Summit Envirosolutions to gather data for the county’s Mining Study Committee. After being tabled from its Feb. 7 meeting and most recently tabled again Feb. 21, the issue continues to be discussed but not voted on.
“If we delay this a little bit we might have to come back to you and ask for an extension,” Land-use Management Director Lisa Hanni told the board regarding a moratorium.
Commissioners told staff members to take the time they needed to develop a satisfactory contract with Summit. However, their instructions may change if the bill gets approved and an extension is no longer permissible.
“Depending what the Legislature does, that might speed things up,” Wozniak said.
Still, passage wouldn’t change the fact that the county eventually must make a decision about its zoning ordinance and any mining situations.
“Either way, the mining committee and ultimately the planning commission and County Board are going to have to decide whether the current regulations are sufficient or whether they want to change something,” Wozniak explained.
Commissioners will likely discuss the bill at their meeting March 6.
Also discussing the possibility of limited interim ordinances is the Red Wing City Council.
With a yearlong frac sand mining moratorium of its own in Red Wing, the City Council reviewed the legislative bill at its meeting Monday night.
“This is a clear usurpation of local government control,” Council member Lisa Bayley said of the proposed state changes.