PAC schedules special meeting to make decision on sandAfter citizens spent two and a half hours Monday night sharing their opinions on sand mining with the Goodhue County Planning Advisory Commission, the commission took only 15 minutes to decide that the volume of information presented was enough reason to table the issue.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
After citizens spent two and a half hours Monday night sharing their opinions on sand mining with the Goodhue County Planning Advisory Commission, the commission took only 15 minutes to decide that the volume of information presented was enough reason to table the issue.
The issue was whether the PAC should recommend approval of some wording changes to the county’s zoning ordinance as recently developed by the Mining Study Committee.
With a mining moratorium in place since September, the committee has spent the past year researching mines. The committee reported its suggestions to PAC members and county commissioners during a meeting July 11, but Monday was the time for the public to weigh in.
More than 100 citizens filled the room and overflowed into the hallway, many sporting anti-sand stickers to make their stance. They overwhelmingly pushed for a moratorium extension and made it clear that they felt there was more research to be done regarding silica sand mines.
“There was a lot of work done on the mining committee, but it was shallow at best,” Frontenac resident Jim McIlrath said.
“There’s just too much that’s not been done with the Mining Study Committee,” Kathleen Bibus echoed.
As person after person made advanced to a microphone in front of the commission, there became a trend of wanting different types of mining to be treated differently in the ordinance based on what’s being mined. The committee focused on treating all mines equally, but citizens said that silica sand — which is used in a hydraulic process known as fracking — should be differentiated from gravel and other aggregate.
John Tittle, a member of the committee, told the commission he disagreed with the route the study committee took.
“I feel there was a fundamental flaw in the premise that frac sand mining should be treated exactly the same way as other mining,” Tittle said.
Red Wing resident Michelle Meyer agreed.
“If sand is sand, why does the state of Minnesota call frac sand a hazardous substance?” she asked.
In addition to that primary concern, other citizens also felt more information needed to be found about the silica sand mining effects on property values, transportation issues and socioeconomic impacts.
Rather than wrap their heads around each person’s opinion in a single night, commission members unanimously opted to schedule a special meeting for 6:30 p.m. July 30, giving themselves more time to consider what to do.
“When you rush through things, that’s when mistakes are made,” Goodhue County Commissioner Dan Rechtzigel said.