Panel to discuss mining expertsThe Goodhue County Board has decided to give the county’s Mining Study Committee a chance to weigh in on whether professionals at Summit Envirosolutions should be hired to collect data regarding sand mines.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
The Goodhue County Board has decided to give the county’s Mining Study Committee a chance to weigh in on whether professionals at Summit Envirosolutions should be hired to collect data regarding sand mines.
Initially proposed at a meeting Feb. 7, the board tabled the matter of working with Summit after showing concerns about the fact that the company had previously dealt with Windsor Permian, an energy company that owns land in Hay Creek and is suspected to have interest in developing a silica sand mine.
In an attempt to calm some nerves, commissioners discussed putting limits in a contract that would prevent Summit from working on any conditional-use permits in Goodhue County for a full year after the county’s moratorium on mining expires this September. Summit decided it couldn’t agree to such terms, leaving some board members uneasy.
“I’m not comfortable with moving forward,” Commissioner Dan Rechtzigel said at Tuesday’s meeting.
Instead, he suggested the Mining Study Committee be allowed to determine whether its members are comfortable placing stock in the work of Summit after hearing such a response. The suggestion caused the issue to be tabled again, this time to the County Board’s March 20 meeting. This gives the mining committee an opportunity to review it March 14.
Back in February, county staff didn’t show much concern with delaying the decision because the moratorium in place could be extended if more time was needed to perform studies and collect data.
Recently, however, a bill at the state Legislature put a kink in those plans.
“The problem is they’re changing the rules right now and they can change them whichever way they want to go,” Goodhue County Attorney Steve Betcher said.
The bill — which has been passed in committees in both the House and Senate — would limit how local governments can implement interim ordinances like the county’s mining moratorium. Currently, the county is allowed to extend its moratorium for up to a year if it decides doing so would be necessary come September, but approval of the bill would restrict that option.
“It remains to be seen what action the Legislature will take,” Goodhue County Planning Director Mike Wozniak said.