Year in review: Silica sand mining still prohibited as year endsNo. 10: Perhaps the most attended meeting of the Goodhue County Board during the entire year was the one on Aug. 16, when the board unanimously voted to extend its silica sand mining moratorium by 12 months.
By: Regan Carstensen, The Republican Eagle
Perhaps the most attended meeting of the Goodhue County Board during the entire year was the one on Aug. 16, when the board unanimously voted to extend its silica sand mining moratorium by 12 months.
The moratorium — which had been in place since Sept. 6, 2011 — was set to expire in September 2012. Area citizens strongly encouraged county commissioners to continue preventing new mining operations from being started within the county.
“I spent much of my money to move here because of the beauty of the area and I don’t like to see it destroyed,” Red Wing resident Sarah Singer told the board at its August meeting. “A home is more than a house. A home is also the surrounding area.”
Ever since February 2011 when an oil company purchased 155 acres near Hay Creek and began drilling exploratory wells, local residents have been sharing their concerns with the Goodhue County Board, the county’s Planning Advisory Commission and the county’s Mining Study Committee.
Citizens have said they’re worried about mines adversely affecting the health and safety of residents, local roads suffering from extra truck traffic and the natural beauty of the area being disturbed. To prevent any of those issues from happening, many people are hoping for an outright ban on silica sand mining within the county.
The county, however, is not their only concern. Back in 2011, citizens brought those same worries to the Red Wing City Council. Throughout 2012, the city made significant strides to reduce its risk of silica sand mining within city limits.
By adopting changes to its zoning ordinance in October, the Red Wing City Council put more stringent controls on any possible silica sand mines that come into the city. The changes were originally developed by the Red Wing Advisory Planning and Sustainability commissions, which came together in October 2011 to study the effects of silica sand mines after the city adopted a yearlong moratorium on the practice.
While the city has taken steps to protect itself much more than it was in the past, citizens are still waiting for the county to do the same.
With about nine months left before Goodhue County’s moratorium permanently expires, the Mining Study Committee continues researching the effects of silica sand mining.
Having already been extended once, the moratorium cannot be lengthened again, so changes to the county’s zoning ordinance can no doubt be expected in 2013.
Oil company Windsor Permian, part of the Oklahoma-based Windsor Energy, purchases about 155 acres of land near Hay Creek in Goodhue County for $2.6 million.
Area residents express concern about the possibility of a silica sand mine operation in the county because of Windsor Permian’s large land purchase.
April 18, 2011
Concerned citizens organize an informational meeting to learn what they can do about preventing silica sand from being mined in the county.
May 24, 2011
A second “Stop the Silica Sand Mine” meeting gives the public a chance to hear testimonials from people living in different Wisconsin towns that already have silica sand operations.
Citizens are gathering signatures for a moratorium request they intend to present to the Goodhue County Board.
June 20, 2011
The Goodhue County Planning Advisory Commission looks at whether to recommend the citizens’ moratorium to the Goodhue County Board. Hours of public comment are heard, so the commission tables its decision to its next meeting.
July 11, 2011
Looking for extra support, concerned citizens share their moratorium idea with the Red Wing City Council.
The council decides it will turn to its planning commission for input.
July 18, 2011
The Goodhue County Planning Advisory Commission decides it will recommend that the County Board reject instituting a moratorium that would prevent sand mines from being established in the county for the next year.
Aug. 16, 2011
The Red Wing Advisory Planning and Sustainability commissions decide to recommend that the Red Wing City Council support the one-year moratorium.
Aug. 22, 2011
The Red Wing City Council votes to support citizen group “Save the Bluffs” in its request for a moratorium.
Sept. 6, 2011
The Goodhue County Board approves the moratorium that prevents sand mines from being developed in the county for at least a year.
Goodhue County staff starts to organize a steering committee that will spend time studying issues of concern surrounding mines.
Oct. 4, 2011
Five concerned citizens, two Goodhue County Planning Advisory Commission members and two mining experts are chosen to make up the mining committee that will research the effects of silica sand mines for the next year.
Oct. 10, 2011
The Red Wing City Council adopts a one-year moratorium on silica sand mining, which officially becomes effective Oct. 29.
Dec. 7, 2011
Residents of Wacouta, Florence and Hay Creek townships discuss at a Hay Creek Town Board meeting how they can take studying sand mines into their own hands, rather than leave everything up to the county’s mining committee.
Jan. 27, 2012
Hay Creek and Florence townships jointly sponsor a two-hour meeting in Frontenac that features a panel discussion and a presentation by Jody McIlrath that highlights how Wisconsin allows townships to enforce their own zoning ordinances at a licensing level.
Feb. 4, 2012
At the annual Goodhue County Township Association meeting in Zumbrota, Minnesota Association of Townships general counsel Eric Hedtke informs township officers that they have the authority to make planning and zoning decisions as long as they are not inconsistent with or less restrictive than the county’s.
Feb. 7, 2012
Goodhue County commissioners table a decision on whether to let the Mining Study Committee develop a contract to work with Summit Envirosolutions, a group of professionals that would help the committee by gathering and analyzing information pertaining to regulations on sand mines, existing mining facilities, best management practices and more.
March 14, 2012
The Mining Study Committee votes 7-2 to recommend that the County Board move forward with hiring Summit.
March 20, 2012
The County Board votes 4-1 to hire Summit as its consultant. Commissioner Ron Allen opposes.
March 31, 2012
Concerned citizens talk at an informational meeting about how they’re going to fight the silica sands without the county’s help. Individual townships report on how they’re working to develop their own comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances to prohibit or strongly control mines in their respective areas.
April 11, 2012
At a joint Advisory Planning and Sustainability commissions meeting, Red Wing Planning Director Brian Peterson presents an outline of a draft report that features various recommendations regarding sand mines, which will eventually be presented to the Red Wing City Council.
May 1, 2012
The Red Wing Port Authority Board and its Harbor Commission tour the bulkhead behind the Xcel Energy Steam Plant along the Mississippi River. The bulkhead is being considered as a loading station to transport sand that is mined in Wisconsin.
May 7, 2012
Fewer than one dozen area citizens turn out to an informational meeting at Cannon Falls High School organized by the Goodhue County Mining Study Committee.
May 29, 2012
After hearing about possible sand transportation at the Little River bulkhead in Red Wing, the Red Wing City Council considers amending its moratorium to include transportation operations.
June 26, 2012
Community members give their input to the Red Wing Advisory Planning and Sustainability commissions about what should be included in the city’s draft report.
July 11, 2012
At a special meeting, the Mining Study Committee presents its final summary of studies to the Goodhue County Board and the Goodhue County Planning Advisory Commission.
July 16, 2012
Citizens spend two and a half hours sharing their opinions on sand mining with the Goodhue County Planning Advisory Commission.
July 30, 2012
The Goodhue County Planning Advisory Commission votes 7-1 to recommend to the County Board a yearlong extension to the silica sand mining moratorium. Tom Drazkowski is the only “no” vote.
Aug. 1, 2012
Hay Creek Town Board considers adopting a township moratorium on silica sand mining, but supervisors eventually decide to wait until the Goodhue County Board makes its decision on whether to extend the county’s moratorium.
Aug. 16, 2012
The Goodhue County Board votes 5-0 to extend its silica sand mining moratorium by another 12 months.
Aug. 16, 2012
Mere hours after the County Board extends its moratorium, the Hay Creek Town Board unanimously votes to approve a one-year silica sand mining moratorium of its own. Hay Creek Town Board members say the move was a precautionary step in case Goodhue County decides to end its moratorium before one year has passed.
Aug. 21, 2012
The Red Wing Sustainability and Advisory Planning commissions vote to adopt their draft report on silica sand mining.
Aug. 23, 2012
During a meeting in Frontenac, zoning experts teach township officials and residents how zoning ordinances can be used to control silica sand mines in the area.
Sept. 24, 2012
The Red Wing City Council reviews the ordinance amendments suggested by the Red Wing Sustainability and Advisory Planning commissions in the draft report they’ve been compiling for months.
Oct. 1, 2012
Per the Sustainability and Advisory Planning commissions’ recommendations in their draft report, the Red Wing City Council votes to adopt changes to its zoning ordinance.
Oct. 1, 2012
Local citizens join other people in a protest outside of a silica sand conference in Brooklyn Center, Minn.
Nov. 15, 2012
Red Wing 20/20 centers its quarterly forum around silica sand, giving citizens an opportunity to ask questions of various speakers including representatives from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Minnesota Department of Transportation, Environmental Quality Board and Minnesota Department of Health.