Letter: County officials just don't get itHistory seems to be repeating itself. Last year the June Goodhue County Planning Advisory Commission meeting heard 35 of about 200 people attending speak eloquently for a moratorium on frac sand mining. The commission tabled the idea, then at its July meeting recommended denial.
By: Winston Kaehler, The Republican Eagle
To the Editor:
History seems to be repeating itself. Last year the June Goodhue County Planning Advisory Commission meeting heard 35 of about 200 people attending speak eloquently for a moratorium on frac sand mining. The commission tabled the idea, then at its July meeting recommended denial.
The County Board did decide to enact a moratorium, but then appointed a study committee heavily weighted toward mining advocates and later appointed a consultant who works primarily for mining companies.
This year on July 16 the same Planning Commission under the same leadership heard 35 of about 200 people attending plead eloquently for more time to consider ordinance changes proposed by county staff, mining committee and consultant. Messages ranged from scientific and specific to passionate and personal.
Even though the study committee was not envisioned as a body to write ordinances, that is what happened, and hundreds of pages were published within the last week to be evaluated and acted upon in the short time before the current moratorium expires.
One planning commission member moved to recommend further work on the ordinance and extend the moratorium. The motion died for lack of a second. The proposed amended ordinance, whose major additions consist merely of more information required for permit applications and vague monitoring provisions, was tabled until the next meeting, when fewer people will be there and public input will not be heard.
What is it that county staff and officials don't get? Is this a gravy train or a steamroller coming at us? Why should citizens always have to paddle upstream to get officials to listen? This is not how government is supposed to work.
Worse may be yet to come, if the county decides to have as its mining technical panel the consulting firm that will probably be compiling most of the applications for mining permits. Meanwhile, the owner of the company proposing the first of many probable mines here can rest easy in Greenwich, Conn., knowing that an industrial sand mine is not going to open 300 feet from his 16,000-square-foot house.