Red Wing commissions preparing draft report on sand miningAs silica sand weighs on the minds of residents and government officials throughout southeastern Minnesota, the city of Red Wing is looking to gain control over the issue before any mines arise.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
As silica sand weighs on the minds of residents and government officials throughout southeastern Minnesota, the city of Red Wing is looking to gain control over the issue before any mines arise.
The city adopted a yearlong moratorium in October and city staff is in the midst of outlining recommendations regarding sand mines to present to the Red Wing City Council this summer.
Details of the outline were shared with Advisory Planning Commission members and Sustainability Commission members at a joint meeting Wednesday night.
“If you agree with this outline, we’d start to develop the draft report,” Red Wing Planning Director Brian Peterson told the group.
Erik Fridell, a Sustainability Commission member who assisted on the outline, admitted he favors prohibiting silica sand mining in Red Wing but didn’t let that influence his thinking.
“I wanted to take this very non-judgmentally,” Fridell said, adding that he decided to think about the report in broad terms of resource extraction rather than singling out silica sand.
The outline features several sections and describes information about why silica sand could be mined in the area, what the environmental impacts of such mines would be and what kind of guidelines existing documents provide. The outline includes maps that show where the resource is located, where mineral extractions are allowed in Red Wing with a conditional-use permit and what land is considered a high priority to preserve.
If the commissions decide to recommend to the City Council that mining not be allowed in those designated preservation areas, “it would start to really reduce the potential sites that could be mined quite aggressively,” Peterson said. “It leaves very few sites.”
There are other options to take as well, the planning director continued.
“One of the recommendations could be that we’d change our zoning code so that a mining operation wouldn’t be allowed in the agricultural residential district,” Peterson explained.
Still, no matter what regulations Red Wing sets for mines developed within city limits, it doesn’t have nearly as much control over trucks passing through town from operations elsewhere.
“I think that’s by far the biggest problem we’re going to face — whether or not they want to come through Red Wing with sand from out-county,” Sustainability Commission and City Council member Peggy Rehder said.
Currently, trucks from a silica sand mine in Maiden Rock travel through the area en route to Cannon Falls. If the trucks use state roads or county roads, Red Wing has no jurisdiction.
“You’d really have no control because it’s just how the highway system is developed,” explained Steve Kohn, assistant planning director. “So there are some limits there.”
With suggestions heard from members at the joint meeting, a subcommittee of one Planning Commission member, one Sustainability Commission member and city staff is going to fine tune the outline into a draft report.
The draft report is projected to be done in May, introduced to the public for feedback in June and presented to the City Council by July.
“We plan to have some pretty strong recommendations in terms of what should be done for ordinances,” Peterson said.