Citizens ready to move forward without county's helpWhen citizens initially formed Save-The-Bluffs, they clearly opposed silica sand mines in Goodhue County, but a few of them advocated maintaining an open mind.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
When citizens initially formed Save-The-Bluffs, they clearly opposed silica sand mines in Goodhue County, but a few of them advocated maintaining an open mind.
Rather than shut down the idea entirely, they said they hoped for the time to learn more about mining and find a way to control and safely operate mining so it results in as little disruption to the area as possible. After fighting for a moratorium, time is exactly what they got. The Goodhue County Board approved a yearlong moratorium in September 2011 and established a committee to study silica sand mines.
With five months to go, Save-The-Bluff members are unhappy with both the County Board’s decisions and the mining committee’s work. As a result, they’re ready to change that open mindset.
Save-The-Bluffs member Keith Fossen said he used to think everyone — meaning citizens and county officials — should work together to get things accomplished. At an informational meeting Saturday afternoon, however, he apologized to fellow Save-The-Bluffs members for his previous approach to the issue.
“I’ve let you down,” he said, starting to explain his new stance.
“I’ll tell you what I’m going to do next. I’m finding people to run against every commissioner that don’t stop this in my community,” Fossen continued, getting a large display of support from the audience through applause. “We’re going to defeat everybody that wants to put this crap in our community.”
Rather than strictly relying on the county, individual townships are developing their own comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances to prohibit or strongly control silica sand mines in their respective areas.
They aren’t the only local governments planning for battle.
During Save-The-Bluffs’ quest for a moratorium last summer, members turned to the Red Wing City Council for support and got it. The issue remains on the minds of Red Wing officials today, and work is being done to address concerns on a city level.
“We’re trying to … write a pretty groundbreaking ordinance and make sure the needs of our citizens are heard,” Red Wing Sustainability Commission member Erik Fridell explained.
A public meeting regarding the city ordinance will be held in May.